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SCIENCE FICTION 

DECEMBER + 35 CENTS 

Rat in the Skull 

by Rog Phillips 




THE SECOND 



WORLD 

OF IF 

ERE ARE nine great 
novelettes from the first 
six years of IF Magazine! 
Like The First World of IF, 
which received such enthusi- 
astic response from science 
fiction readers all over 
America, this is a volume of 
exceptional interest — distin- 
guished examples of fine 
science fiction writing by 
such authors as Charles 
Beaumont, James Blish, 
Phillip K. Dick, Gordon 
Dickson, Charles L. Fon- 
tenay, James E. Gunn, Ray- 
mond F. Jones, Bryce Wal- 
ton and Robert F. Young in 
an exciting variety of mood, 
idea, theme and pace. 

And if you missed The 
First World of IF, containing 
20 really outstanding short 
stories from the first five 
years of IF, there are still a 
few copies available . . . 
Just send 50^ a copy for 
either the "First World" or 
the "Second World" to IF 
Magazine, Kingston, New 
York, and your copy will be 
mailed at once* 




WORLDS OF 

SCIENCE FICTION 



DECEMBER 1958 

All Stories New and Complete 

Publisher: JAMES L. QUINN 
Editor: DAMON KNIGHT 
Assist. Editor: ELAINE WILBER 

IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIM 

NOVELETTES 

RAT IN THE SKULL by Rog Phillips 
THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN by R. M. McKenna 

SHORT STORIES 

TWO WHOLE GLORIOUS WEEKS by Will Worthington 
SATELLITE PASSAGE by Theodore L. Thomas 

WESTERN SCIENCE IS SO WONDERFUL 

by Cordwainer Smith 

HALF AROUND PLUTO by Manly Wade Wellman 
NULL-0 by Phillip K. Dick 

DEPARTMENTS 

IN THE BALANCE by the Editor 108 

THE RETORT 117 

COVER: By Ed Emsh, illustrating Rat in the Skull 
Illustrations by Emsh and Frees 

IIIUIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII^ 



2 I 

38 I 



21 1 

31 1 

79 | 

90 | 

99 I 




IF is published bi-monthly by Quinn Publishing Co., Inc. Vol. 9. No. I. 
Copyright 1950 by Quinn Publishing Co., Inc. Office of publication 8 
Lora Street, Buffalo, N.Y. Entered as Second Class Matter at Post 
Office, Buffalo, N.Y. Subscription $3.50 for 12 Issues In U.S. and Posses- 
sions^ Canada $4 for 12 issues elsewhere $4.50. All stories are fiction; 
any similarity to actual persons is coincidental. Not responsible for unso- 
licited artwork or manuscripts. 35c a copy. Printed in U.S.A, 

EDITORIAL AND BUSINESS OFFICES, KINGSTON, NEW YORK 

Next ( February ) issue on sale December 11th 





D R. JOSEPH MacNare was not son to believe that he remained so, 
the sort of person one would in spite of having stepped out of 
expect him to be in the light of his chosen field, 
what happened. Indeed, it is safe to At the age of thirty-four, he had 
say that until the summer of 1955 to his credit a college textbook on 
he was more “normal”, better ad- advanced calculus, an introductory 
justed, than the average college physics, and seventy-two papers 
professor. And we have every rea- that had appeared in various jour- 



2 




RAT IN THE 
SKULL 



nals, copies of which wen* in neat 
order in a special section of the 
bookcase in his office at the uni- 
versity, and duplicate copies of 
which were in equally neat order 
in his office at home. None of these 
were in the field of psychology, the 
field in which he was shortly to be- 
come famous — or infamous. Bui 
anyone who studies the published 
writings of Dr. MacNare must in- 
evitably conclude that he was a 
competent, responsible scientist, 
and a firm believer in institutional 
research, research by teams, rather 
than in private research and go-it- 
alone secrecy, the course he even- 
tually followed. 

In fact, there is every reason to 
believe he followed this course with 
the greatest of reluctance, aware of 
its pitfalls, and that he took every 



precaution that was humanly pos- 
sible. 

Certainly, on that day in late 
August, 19f>r>, at the little cabin on 
the Russian River, a hundred miles 
upstate from the university, when 
!)r. MacNare completed his paper 
on An Experimental Approach to 
the Psychological Phenomena of 
Verification, he had no slightest 
thought of “going it alone.’ 5 

It was mid-afternoon. His wife. 
Alice, was dozing on the small dock 
that stretched out into the water, 
her slim figure tanned a smooth 
brown that was just a shade lighter 
than her hair. Their cight-ycar-old 
son, Paul, was fifty yards upstream 
playing with some other boys, their 
shouts the only sound except for 
the whisper of rushing water and 
the sound of wind in the trees. 



Some people will be shocked by this story. Others will be 

deeply moved. Everyone who reads it will be talking about 

it. Read the first four pages: then put it down if you can. 

3 




Dr. MacNare, in swim trunks, 
his lean muscular body hardly 
tanned at all, emerged from the 
cabin and came out on the dock. 

“Wake up, Alice, ,, he said, nudg- 
ing her with his foot. “You have a 
husband again.” 

“Well, it’s about time,” Alice 
said, turning over on her back and 
looking up at him, smiling in an- 
swer to his happy grin. 

He stepped over her and went 
out on the diving board, leaping 
up and down on it, higher and 
higher each time, in smooth co- 
ordination, then went into a one 
and a half gainer, his body cutting 
into the water with a minimum of 
splash. 

His head broke the surface. He 
looked up at his wife, and laughed 
in the sheer pleasure of being alive. 
A few swift strokes brought him to 
the foot of the ladder. He climbed, 
dripping water, to the dock, then 
sat down by his wife. 

“Yep, it’s done,” he said. “How 
many days of our vacation left? 
Two? That’s time enough for me 
to get a little tan. Might as well 
make the most of it. I’m going to 
be working harder this winter than 
I ever did in my life.” 

“But I thought you said your pa- 
per was done!” 

“It is. But that’s only the begin- 
ning. Instead of sending it in for 
publication, I’m going to submit it 
to the directors, with a request for 
facilities and personnel to conduct 
a line of research based on pages 
twenty-seven to thirty-two of the 
paper.” 

“And you think they’ll grant your 
request?” 

4 



“There’s no question about it,” 
Dr. MacNarc said, smiling confi- 
dently. “It’s the most important 
line of research ever opened up to 
experimental psychology. They’ll be 
forced to grant my request. It will 
put the university on the map!” 
Alice laughed, and sat up and 
kissed him. 

“Maybe they won’t agree with 
you,” she said. “Is it all right for 
me to read the paper?” 

“I wish you would,” he said. 
“Where’s that son of mine? Up- 
stream?” He leaped to his feet and 
went to the diving board again. 

“Better walk along the bank, Joe. 
The stream is too swift.” 

“Nonsense!” Dr. MacNare said. 
He made a long shallow dive, 
then began swimming in a power- 
ful crawl that took him upstream 
slowly. Alice stood on the dock 
watching him until he was lost to 
sight around the bend, then went 
into the cabin. The completed pa- 
per lay beside the typewriter. 



A LICE HAD her doubts. 'Tm 
not so sure the board will ap- 
prove of this,” she said. Dr. Mac- 
Nare, somewhat exasperated, said, 
“What makes you think that? Pav- 
lov experimented with his dog, 
physiological experiments with rats, 
rabbits, and other animals go on 
all the time. There’s nothing cruel 
about it.” 

“Just the same . . Alice said. 
So Dr. MacNare cautiously resisted 
the impulse to talk about his paper 
with has fellow professors and his 
most intelligent students. Instead, 
he merely turned his paper in to 

ROG PHILLIPS 




the board at the earliest opportu- 
nity and kept silent, waiting for 
their decision. 

He hadn’t long to wait. On the 
last Friday of September he re- 
ceived a note requesting his pres- 
ence in the board room at three 
o’clock on Monday. He rushed 
home after his last class and told 
Alice about it. 

“Let’s hope their decision is fa- 
vorable,” she said. 

“It has to be,” Dr. MacNarc an- 
swered with conviction. 

He spent the week-end making 
plans. “They’ll probably assign me 
a machinist and a couple of elec- 
tronics experts from the hill,” he 
told Alice. “I can use graduate stu- 
dents for work with the animals. I 
hope they give me Dr. Munitz from 
Psych as a consultant, because I like 
him much better than Vecrhof. By 
early spring we should have things 
rolling.” 

Monday at three o’clock on the 
dot, Dr. MacNare knocked on the 
door of the board room, and en- 
tered. He was not unfamiliar with 
it, nor with the faces around the 
massive walnut conference table. 
Always before he had known what 
to expect — a brief commendation 
for the revisions in his textbook on 
calculus for its fifth printing, a nice 
speech from the president about his 
good work as a prelude to a salary 
raise — quiet, expected things. Noth- 
ing unanticipated had ever hap- 
pened here. 

Now, as he entered, he sensed a 
difference. All eyes were fixed on 
him, but not with admiration or 
friendliness. They were fixed more 
in the manner of a restaurateur 



watching the approach of a cock- 
roach along the surface of the 
counter. 

Suddenly the room seemed hot 
and stufFy. The confidence in Dr. 
MacNarc’s expression evaporated. 
He glanced back toward the door 
as though wishing to escape. 

“So it’s you!” the president said, 
setting the lone of what followed. 

“This is yours?” the president 
added, picking up the neatly typed 
manuscript, glancing at it, and 
dropping it back on the table as 
though it were something unclean. 

Dr. MacNare nodded, and 
cleared his throat nervously to say 
yes, but didn’t get the chance. 

“We — all of us — are amazed and 
shocked,” the president said. “Of 
course, we understand that psychol- 
ogy is not your field, and you prob- 
ably were thinking only from the 
mathematical viewpoint. We arc 
agreed on that. What you propose, 
though . . He shook his head 
slowly. “It’s not only out of the 
question, but I’m afraid I’m going 
to have to request that you forget 
the whole thing — put this paper 
where no one can see it, preferably 
destroy it. I’m sorry, Dr. MacNare, 
but the university simply cannot 
afford to be associated with such a 
thing even remotely. I’ll put it 
bluntly because I feel strongly about 
it, as do the other members of the 
Board. If this paper is published or 
in any way comes to light > we will 
be forced to request your resigna- 
tion from the faculty” 

“But why?” Dr. MacNare asked 
in complete bewilderment. 

“Why?” another board member 
exploded, slapping the table. “It’s 



RAT IN THE SKULL 




the most inhuman thing I ever 
heard of, strapping a newborn ani- 
mal onto some kind of frame and 
tying its legs to control levers, with 
the intention of never letting it free. 
The most fiendish and inhuman tor- 
ture imaginable! If you didn’t have 
such an outstanding record I would 
be for demanding your resignation 
at once.” 

“But that’s not true!” Dr. Mac- 
Nare said. “It’s not torture! Not in 
any way! Didn’t you read the pa- 
per? Didn't you understand that — ” 

“I read it,” the man said. “We 
all read it. Every word.'’ 

“Then you should have under- 
stood — ” Dr. MacNare said. 

“We read it,” the man repeated, 
“and we discussed some aspects of 
it with Dr. Veerhof without bring- 
ing your paper into it, nor your 
name.” 

“Oh,” Dr. MacNare said. “Veer- 
hof . . ” 

“He says experiments, very care- 
ful experiments, have already been 
conducted along the lines of getting 
an animal to understand a symbol 
system and it can’l be done. The 
nerve paths aren't (here. Your line 
of research, besides being inhuman- 
ly cruel, would accomplish noth- 
ing.” 

“Oh,” Dr. MacNare said, his eyes 
flashing. “So you know all about the 
results of an experiment in an un- 
tried field without performing the 
experiments!” 

“According to Dr. Veerhof that 
field is not untried but rather well 
explored,” the board member said. 
“Giving an animal the means to 
make vocal sounds would not en- 
able it to form a symbol system.” 

6 



“I disagree,” Dr. MacNare said, 
seething. “My studies indicate clear- 

ly-” 

“I think,” the president said with 
a firmness that demanded the floor, 
“our position has been made very 
clear, Dr. MacNare. The matter is 
now closed. Permanently. I hope 
you will have the good sense, if I 
may use such a strong term, to for- 
get the whole ihing. For the good 
of your career and your very nice 
wife and son. That is all.” He held 
the manuscript toward Dr. Mac- 
Nare. 

“I can’t understand their atti- 
tude!” Dr. MacNare said to Alice 
when he told her about it. 

“Possibly I can understand it a 
little better than you, Joe,” Alice 
said thoughtfully. “I had a little of 
what I think they feel, when 1 first 
read your paper. A — a prejudice 
against the idea of it, is as closely 
as I can describe it. Like it would 
be violating the order of nature, 
giving an animal a soul, in a way.” 

“Then you feel as they do?” Dr. 
MacNare said. 

“I didn’t say that, Joe.” Alice put 
her arms around her husband and 
kissed him fiercely. “Maybe I feel 
just the opposite, that if there is 
some way to give an animal a soul, 
we should do it.” 

Dr. MacNare chuckled. “It 
wouldn’t be quite that cosmic. An 
animal can’t be given something it 
doesn’t have already. All that can 
be done is to give it the means to 
fully capitalize on what it has. Ani- 
mals — man included — can only do 
by observing the results. When you 
move a finger, what you really do is 

ROG PHILLIPS 




send a neural impulse out from the 
brain along one particular nerve or 
one particular set of nerves, but 
you can never learn that, nor just 
what it is you do. All that you can 
know is that when you do a definite 
something your eyes and sense of 
touch bring you the information 
that your finger moved. But if that 
finger were attached to a voice ele- 
ment that made the sound ah, and 
you could never sec your finger, all 
you could ever know is that when 
you did that particular something 
you made a certain vocal sound. 
Changing the resultant effect of 
mental commands to include ihings 
normally impossible to you may ex- 
pand the potential of your mind, 
but it won't give you a soul if you 
don’t have one to begin with. 1 ’ 

‘‘You’re using Vcerhofs argu- 
ments on me,” Alice said. “And 1 
think we’re arguing from separaLc 
definitions of a soul. Pin afraid of 
it, Joe. It would be a tragedy, I 
think, to give some animal — a rat, 
maybe — the soul of a poet, and 
then have it discover that it is only 
a rat.” 

“Oh,” Dr. MacNare said. “That 
kind of soul. No, I’m not that opti- 
mistic about the results. I think we’d 
be lucky to get any results at all, a 
limited vocabulary that the animal 
would use meaningfully. But I do 
think we’d get that.” 

“It would take a lot of time and 
patience.” 

“And we’d have to keep the 
whole thing secret from everyone,” 
l)r. MacNare said. “Wc couldn’t 
even let Paul have an inkling of it, 
because he might say something to 
one of his playmates, and it would 

RAT IN THE SKULL 



get back to some member of the 
board. How could we keep it secret 
from Paul?” 

“Paul knows he’s not allowed in 
your study,” Alice said. “We could 
keep everything there* — and keep 
the door locked.” 

“Then it’s settled?” 

“Wasn’t it, from the very begin- 
ning?” Alice put her arms around 
her husband and her check against 
his ear to hide her worried expres- 
sion. “I love you, Joe. I’ll help you 
in any way 1 can. And if we haven’t 
enough in the savings account, 
there’s always what Mother left 
me.” 

“I hope we won’t have to use any 
of it, sweetheart,” he said. 

T he following day Dr. MacNare 
was an hour and a half late corning 
home from the campus. He had 
been, he announced casually, to a 
pet store. 

“We’ll have to hurry,” said Alice. 
“Paul will be home any minute.” 

She helped him carry the pack- 
ages from the car to the study. To- 
gether they moved things around 
to make room for the gleaming new 
cages with their white rats and 
hamsters and guinea pigs. When it 
was done they stood arm in arm 
viewing their new possession. 

O ALICE MacNare, just the 
presence of the animals in her 
husband’s study brought the re- 
search project into reality. As the 
days passed that romantic feeling 
became fact. 

“We’re going to have to do to- 
gether,” Joe MacNare told her at 
the end of the first week, “what a 




7 




team of a dozen specialists in sepa- 
rate fields should be doing. Our 
first job, before we can do anything 
else, is to study the natural move- 
ments of each species and translate 
them into patterns of robot direc- 
tives.’ 5 

“Robot directives?” 

“I visualize it this way,” Dr. 
MacNarc said. “The animal will 
be strapped comfortably in a frame 
so that its body can’t move but its 
legs can. Its legs will be attached 
to four separate, free-moving levers 
which make a different electrical 
contact for every position. Each 
electrical contact, or control switch, 
will cause the robot body to do one 
specific thing, such as move a leg, 
utter some particular sound through 
its voice box, or move just one fin- 
ger. Can you visualize that, Alice?” 

Alice nodded. 

“Okay. Now, one leg has to be 
used for nothing but voice sounds. 
That leaves three legs for control 
of the movements of the robot body. 
In body movement there will be 
simultaneous movements and se- 
quences. A simple sequence can be 
controlled by one leg. All move- 
ments of the robot will have to be 
reduced to not more than three con- 
current sequences of movement of 
the animal’s legs. Our problem, 
then, is to make the unlearned and 
the most natural movements of the 
legs of the animal control the robot 
body’s movements in a functional 
manner.” 

Endless hours were consumed in 
this initial study and mapping. Alice 
worked at it while her husband was 
at the university and Paul was at 
school. Dr. MacNare rushed home 



each day to go over what she had 
done and continue the work him- 
self. 

He grew more and more grudg- 
ing of the time his classes took. In 
December he finally wrote to the 
three technical journals that had 
been expecting papers from him for 
publication during the year that he 
would be too busy to do them. 

By January the initial phase of 
research was well enough along so 
that Dr. MacNare could begin 
planning the robot. For this he set 
up a workshop in the garage. 

In early February he finished 
what he called the “test frame.” 
After Paul had gone to bed, Dr. 
MacNare brought the test frame 
into the study from the garage. To 
Alice it looked very much like the 
insides of a radio. 

She watched while he placed a 
husky-looking male white rate in 
the body harness fastened to the 
framework of aluminum and tied 
its legs to small metal rods. 

Nothing happened except that 
the rat kept trying to get free, and 
the small metal rods tied to its feet 
kept moving in pivot sockets. 

“Now!” Dr. MacNare said ex- 
citedly, flicking a small toggle 
switch on the side of the assembly. 

Immediately a succession of vocal 
sounds erupted from the speaker. 
They followed one another, making 
no sensible word. 

“He’s doing that,” Dr. MacNare 
said triumphantly. 

“If we left him in that, do you 
think he’d eventually associate his 
movements with the sounds?” 

“It’s possible. But that would be 
more on the order of what we do 



8 



ROG PHILLIPS 




when we drive a car. To some ex- 
tent a car becomes an extension of 
the body, but you’re always aware 
that your hands are on the steering 
wheel, your foot on the gas pedal 
or brake. You extend your aware- 
ness consciously. You interpret a 
slight tremble in the steering wheel 
as a shimmy in the front wheels. 
You’re oriented primarily to your 
body and only secondarily to the 
car as an extension of you.” 

Alice closed her eyes for a mo- 
ment. “Mm hm,” she said. 

“And that’s the best we could 
get, using a rat that knows already 
it’s a rat.” 

Alice stared at the struggling rat, 
her eyes round with comprehension, 
while the loudspeaker in l he test 
frame said, “Ag-pr-ds-raf-os-dg . . .” 

Dr. MacNare shut oil the sound 
and began freeing the rat. 

“By starting with a newborn ani- 
mal and never letting it know what 
it is,” he said, “we can get a com- 
plete exlcnsion of the animal into 
the machine, in its orientation. So 
complete that if you took it out of 
the machine after it grew up, it 
would have no more idea of what 
had happened than — than your 
brain if it were taken out of your 
head and put on a table!” 

“Now I’m getting that feeling 
again, Joe,” Alice said, laughing 
nervously. “When you said that 
about my brain I thought, ‘Or my 
soul?’” 

Dr. MacNare put the rat back in 
its cage. 

“There might be a valid analogy 
there,” he said slowly. “If we have 
a soul that survives after death, 
what is it like? It probably inter- 

RAT IN THE SKULL 



prets its surroundings in terms of 
its former orientation in the body.” 
“That’s a little of what I mean,” 
Alice said. “I can’t help it, Joe. 
Sometimes I feel so sorry for what- 
ever baby animal you’ll eventually 
use, that I want to cry. I feel so 
sorry for it, because we will never 
dare let it know what it really is!” 
“That’s true. Which brings up 
another line of research that should 
be the work of one expert on the 
team I ought to have for this. As it 
is, I’ll turn it over to you to do while 
I build the robot.” 

“What’s that?” 

“Opiates,” Dr. MacNare said. 
“What we want is an opiate that 
can be used on a small animal every 
few days, so that we can take it out 
of the robot, bathe it, and put it 
back again without its knowing 
about it. There probably is no ideal 
drug. We’ll have to test the more 
promising ones.” 

Later that night, as they lay be- 
side each other in the silence and 
darkness of their bedroom, Dr. 
MacNare sighed deeply. 

“So many problems,” he said. “I 
sometimes wonder if we can solve 
them all. See them all . . .” 

To Alice MacNare, later, that 
night in early February marked the 
end of the first phase of research — 
the point where two alternative 
futures hung in the balance, and 
either could have been taken. That 
night she might have said, there in 
the darkness, “Let’s drop it,” and 
her husband might have agreed. 

She thought of saying it. She even 
opened her mouth to say it. But her 
husband’s soft snores suddenly broke 



9 




the silence of the night. The mo- 
ment of return had passed. 

ONTH followed month. To 
Alice it was a period of rush- 
ing from kitchen to hypodermic 
injections to vacuum cleaner to hy- 
podermic injections, her key to the 
study in constant use. 

Paul, nine years old now, took to 
spring baseball and developed an 
indifference to TV, much to the 
relief of both his parents. 

In the garage workshop Dr. Mac- 
Nare made parts for the robot, and 
kept a couple of innocent projects 
going which he worked on when his 
son Paul evinced his periodic curi- 
osity about what was going on. 

Spring became summer. For six 
weeks Paul went to Scout camp, 
and during those six weeks Dr. 
MacNarc reorganized the entire re- 
search project in line with what it 
would be in the fall. A decision 
was made to use only white rats 
from then on. The rest of the ani- 
mals were sold to a pet store, and a 
system for automatically 1 ceding, 
watering, and keeping the cages 
clean was installed in preparation 
for a much needed two weeks' va- 
cation at the cabin. 

When the time came to go, they 
had to tear themselves away from 
their work by an effort of will — 
aided by the realization that they 
could get little done with Paul un- 
derfoot. 

September came all too soon. By 
mid-September both Dr. MacNarc 
and his wife felt they were on the 
home stretch. Parts of the robot 
were going together and being 



tested, the female white rats were 
being bred at the rate of one a week 
so that when the robot was com- 
pleted there would be a supply of 
newborn rats on hand. 

October came, and passed. The 
robot was finished, but there were 
minor defects in it that had to be 
corrected. 

“Adam,” Dr. MacNare said one 
day, “will have to wear this robot 
all his life. It has to be just right.” 

And with each litter of baby rats 
Alice said, “I wonder which one is 
Adam.” 

They talked of Adam often now, 
speculating on what he would be 
like. It was almost, they decided, 
as though Adam were their second 
child. 

And finally, on November 2, 
1956, everything was ready. Adam 
would be born in the next litter, 
due in about three days. 

The amount of work that had 
gone into preparation for the great 
moment is beyond conception. Four 
file cabinet drawers were filled with 
noies. By actual measurement sev- 
enteen feet of shelf space was filled 
with hooks on the thousand and 
one subjects that had to be mas- 
tered. The robot itself was a mas- 
terpiece* of engineering that would 
have* done credit to the research 
staff of a watch manufacturer. The 
vernier adjustments alone, used to 
compensate daily for the rat’s 
growth, had eight patentable fea- 
tures. 

And the skills that had had to be 
acquired! Alice, who had never be- 
fore had a hypodermic syringe in 
her hand, could now inject a pre- 




10 



ROG PHILLIPS 




risely measured amount of opiate 
into the tiny body of a baby rat 
with calm confidence in her skill. 

After such monumental prepara- 
tion, the great moment itself was 
anticlimactic. While the mother of 
Adam was still preoccupied with 
the birth of the remainder of the 
brood, Adam, a pink helpless thing 
about the size of a little finger, was 
picked up and transferee! to the 
head of the robot. 

His tiny feet, which he would 
never know existed, were fastened 
with gentle care to the four control 
rods. His tiny head was thrust into 
a helmet attached to a pivot- 
mounted optical system, ending in 
the lenses that served the robot for 
eyes. And finally a transparent plas- 
tic cover contoured to the shape of 
the back of a human head was fas- 
tened in place. Through it his fee- 
ble attempts at movement could be 
easily observed. 

Thus, Dr. MacNare’ s Adam was 
born into his body, and the time of 
the completion of his birth was one- 
thirty in the afternoon on the fifth 
day of November, 1956. 

in the ensuing half hour all the 
cages of rats were removed from 
the study, the floor was scrubbed, 
and deodorizers were sprayed, so 
that no slightest trace of Adam’s 
lowly origins remained. When this 
was done, Dr. MacNare loaded the 
cages into his car and drove them 
to a pet store that had agreed to 
take them. 

When he returned, he joined 
Alice in the study, and at five min- 
utes before four, with Alice hover- 
ing anxiously beside him, he opened 
the cover on Adam’s chest and 



turned on the master switch that 
gave Adam complete dominion 
over his robot body. 

Adam was beautiful — and mon- 
strous. Made of metal from the 
neck down, but shaped to be cov- 
ered by padding and skin in hu- 
man semblance. From the neck up 
the job was done. The face was hu- 
man, masculine, handsome, much 
like that of a clothing store dummy 
except for its mobility of expression, 
and the incongruity of the rest of 
the body. 

The voice-control lever and con- 
tacts had been designed so that the 
ability to produce most sounds 
would have to be discovered by 
Adam as lie gained control of his 
natural right front leg. Now the 
only sounds being uttered were oh, 
ah, mm, and //. in random order. 
Similarly, the only movements of 
his arms and legs were feeble, like 
those of a human baby. The tre- 
mendous strength in his limbs was 
something he would be unable to 
tap fully until he had learned con- 
scious coordination. 

After a while Adam became si- 
lent and without movement. 
Alarmed, Dr. MacNare opened the 
instrument panel in the abdomen. 
The instruments showed that 
Adam’s pulse and respiration were 
normal. He had fallen asleep. 

Dr. MacNare and his wife stole 
softly from the study, and locked 
the door. 



A FTER A FEW days, with the 
care and feeding of Adam all 
that remained of the giant research 
project, the pace of the days shifted 

) 1 



RAT IN THE SKULL 




to that of, long-range patience. 

“It’s just like having a baby,” 
Alice said. 

“You know something?” Dr. 
MacNarc asked. “I’ve had to re- 
sist passing ouL cigars. I hate to say 
it, but I’m prouder of Adam than I 
was of Paul when he was born.” 
“So am I, Joe,” Alice said quiet- 
ly. “But I'm getting a little of that 
scared feeling back again.” 

“In what wav?” 

“He watches me. Oh, I know it’s 
natural for him to, but I do wish 
you had made the eyes so that his 
own didn’t show as little dark dots 
in the center of the iris.” 

“It couldn’t be helped,” Dr. 
MacNare said. “He has to be able 
to see, and 1 had to set up the sys- 
tem of mirrors so that the two axes 
of vision would be three inches 
apart as they are in the average hu- 
man pair of eyes.” 

“Oh, I know,” said Alice. “Prob- 
ably it’s just something I’ve seized 
on. But when he watches me, I find 
myself holding my breath in fear 
that he can read in my expression 
the secret we have to keep from 
him, that he is a rat.” 

“Forget it, Alice. That’s outside 
his experience and beyond his com- 
prehension.” 

“I know,” Alice sighed. “When 
he begins to show some of the signs 
of intelligence a baby has, I’ll be 
able to think of him as a human 
being.” 

“Sure, darling,” Dr. MacNare 
said. 

“Do you think he ever will?” 
“That,” Dr. MacNarc said, “is 
the big question. I think he will. I 
think so now even more than I did 



at the start. Aside from eating and 
sleeping, he has no avenue of ex- 
pression except his robot body, and 
no source of reward except that of 
making sense — human sense ” 

The days passed, and became 
weeks, then months. During the 
daytime when her husband was at 
the university and her son was at 
school, Alice would spend most of 
her hours with Adam, forcing her- 
self to smile at him and talk to him 
as she had to Paul when he was a 
baby. But when she watched his 
motions through the transparent 
back of his head, his leg motions 
remained those of attempted walk- 
ing and attempted running. 

Then, one day when Adam was 
four months old, things changed — 
as abruptly as the turning on of a 
light. 

The unrewarding walking and 
running movements of Adam’s little 
legs ceased. It was evening, and 
both Dr. MacNare and his wife 
were there. 

For a fc W seconds there was no 
sound or movement from the robot 
body. Then, quite deliberately, 
Adam said, “Ah.” 

“Ah,” Dr. MacNare echoed. 
“Mm. Mm, ah. Ma-nia.” 

“Mm,” Adam said. 

The silence in the study became 
absolute. The seconds stretched 
into eternities. Then — 

“Mm, ah,” Adam said. “Mm, 
ah.” 

Alice began crying with happi- 
ness. 

“Mm, ah,” Adam said. “Mm, ah. 
Ma-ma. Mamamamama.” 

Then, as though the effort had 



12 



ROG PHILLIPS 




been too much lor Adam, he went 
to sleep. 

Having achieved the impossible, 
Adam seemed to lose interest in it. 
For two days he uttered nothing 
more than an occasional involun- 
tary syllabic. 

“I would call that as much of an 
achievement as speech itself,” Dr. 
MacNarc said to his wife. “His 
right front leg has asserted its in- 
dependence. If each of his other 
three legs can do as well, he can 
control the robot body.” 

It became obvious that Adam 
was trying. Though the movements 
of his body remained non-pur- 
posive, the pauses in those move- 
ments became more and more 
pregnant with what was obviously 
mental effort. 

During that period there was of 
course room for argument and 
speculation about it, and even a 
certain amount of humor. Had 
Adam’s right front leg, at the mo- 
ment of achieving meaningful 
speech, suffered a nervous break- 
down? What would a psychiatrist 
have to say about a white rat that 
had a nervous breakdown in its 
right front leg? 

‘The worst part about it,” Dr. 
MacNarc said to his wife, “is that 
if he fails to make it he’ll have to be 
killed. He can’t have permanent 
frustration forced onto him, and, 
by now, returning him to his nat- 
ural state would be even worse.” 

“And be has such a stout little 
heart,” Alice said. “Sometimes 
when he looks at me I’m sure he 
knows what is happening and he 
wants me to know he’s trying.” 



When they went to bed that night 
they were more discouraged than 
they had ever been. 

Eventually the slept. When the 
alarm went off, Alice slipped into 
her robe and went into the study 
first, as she always did. 

A moment later she was back in 
the bedroom, shaking her husband’s 
shoulder. 

“Joe!” she whispered. “Wake up! 
Come into the study!” 

He leaped out of bccl and rushed 
past her. She caught up with him 
and pulled him to a slop. 

“Take it easy, Joe,” she said. 
“Don’t alarm him.” 

“Oh.” Dr. MacNare relaxed. “I 
thought something had happened.” 

“Something has!” 

They stopped in the doorway of 
the study. Dr. MacNare sucked in 
his breath sharply, but remained 
silent. 

Adam seemed oblivious of their 
presence. He was too interested in 
something else. 

He was interested in his hands. 
He was holding his hands up 
where he could see them, and he 
was moving them independently, 
clenching and unclenching the 
metal fingers with slow delibera- 
tion. 

Suddenly the movement slopped. 
He had become aware of them. 
Then, impossibly, unbelievably, he 
spoke. 

“Ma ma,” Adam said. Then, “Pa 

>> 

pa. 

“Adam!” Alice sobbed, rushing 
across the study to him and sinking 
down beside him. Her arms went 
around his metal body. “Oh, 
Adam,” she cried happily. 



PAT IN THE SKULL 



n 




I T WAS the beginning. The date 
of that beginning is not known. 
Alice MacNare believes it was early 
in May, but more probably it was in 
April. There was no time to keep 
notes. In fact, there was no longer 
a research project nor any thought 
of one. Instead, there was Adam, 
the person. At least, to Alice he be- 
came that, completely. Perhaps, 
also, to Dr. MacNare. 

Dr. MacNare quite often stood 
behind Adam where he could watch 
the rat body through the transpar-^ 
ent skull case while Alice engaged 
Adam’s attention. Alice did the 
same, at times, but she finally re- 
fused to do so any more. The sight 
of Adam the rat, his body held in a 
net attached to the frame, his head 
covered by the helmet, his four legs 
moving independently of one an- 
other with little semblance of walk- 
ing or running motion nor even of 
coordination, but with swift dart- 
ing motions and pauses pregnant 
with meaning, brought back to 
Alice the old feeling of vague fear, 
and a tremendous surge of pity for 
Adam that made her want to cry. 

Slowly, subtly, Adam’s rat body 
became to Alice a pure brain, and 
his legs four nerve ganglia. A brain 
covered with short white fur; and 
when she took him out of his har- 
ness under opiate to bathe him, she 
bathed him as gently and carefully 
as any brain surgeon sponging a 
cortical surface. 

Once started, Adam’s mental de- 
velopment progressed rapidly. Dr. 
MacNare began making notes again 
on June 2, 1957, just ten days be- 
fore the end, and it is to these notes 
that we go for an insight into 



Adam’s mind. 

On June 4th Dr. MacNare 
wrote, “I am of the opinion that 
Adam will never develop beyond 
the level of a moron, in the scale 
of human standards. He would 
probably make a good factory 
worker or chauffeur, in a year or 
two. But lie is consciously aware of 
himself as Adam, he thinks in words 
and simple sentences with an accu- 
rate understanding of their mean- 
ing, and he is able to do new things 
from spoken instructions. There is 
no question, therefore, but that he 
has an integrated mind, entirely hu- 
man in every respect.” 

On June 7 th Dr. MacNare 
wrote, ‘‘Something is developing 
which I hesitate to put down on 
paper — for a variety of reasons. 
Creating Adam was a scientific ex- 
periment , nothing more than that. 
Both the premises on which the 
project was based have been 
proven: that the principle of verifi- 
cation is the main factor in learned 
response, and that, given the proper 
conditions, some animals are capa- 
ble of abstract symbol systems and 
therefore of thinking with words to 
form meaningful concepts. 

“Nothing more was contemplated 
in the experiment. I stress this be- 
cause— Adam is becoming deeply 
religious — and before any mistaken 
conclusions are drawn from this I 
will explain what caused this de- 
velopment. It was an oversight of a 
type that is bound to happen in any 
complex project. 

“Alice’s experimental data on the 
effects of opiates, and especially the 
data on increasing the dose to offset 
growing tolerance, were based on 



14 



ROG PHILLIPS 




observation of the subject alone, 
without any knowledge of the men- 
tal aspects of increased tolerance — 
which would of course be impossible 
except with human subjects. 

“Unknown to us, Adam has been 
becoming partly conscious during 
his bath. Just conscious enough to 
be vaguely aware of certain sensa- 
tions, and to remember them after- 
ward. Few, if any, of these half re- 
membered sensations are such that 
he can fit them into the pattern of 
his waking reality. 

The one that has had the most 
pronounced influence on him is, to 
quote him, Teel clean inside. Feel 
good/ Quite obviously this sensa- 
tion is caused by his bath. 

“With it is a distinct feeling of 
disembodiment, of being — ancl these 
arc his own words — ‘outside my 
body’! This, of course, is an accu- 
rate realization, because to him the 
robot is his body, and he knows 
nothing of the existence of his ac- 
tual, living, rat body. 

“In addition to these two effects, 
there is a third one. A feeling of 
walking, and sometimes of floating, 
of stumbling over things he can’t 
see, of talking, of being talked to by 
disembodied voices. 

“The explanation of this is also 
obvious. When he is being bathed 
his legs are moved about. Any 
movement of a leg is to him cither 
a spoken sound or a movement of 
some part of his robot body. Any 
movement of his right front leg, 
for example, tells his mind that he 
is making a sound. But, since his 
leg ^ not connected to the sound 
system of his robot body, his ears 
bring no physical verification of the 

RAT IN THE SKULL 



sound. The mental anticipation of 
that verification then becomes a dis- 
embodied voice to him. 

“The end result of all this is that 
Adam is becoming convinced that 
there is a hidden side of things 
(which there is), and that it is 
supernatural (which it is, in the 
framework of his orientation) . 

“What wc arc going lo have to 
do is make sure he is completely 
unconscious before taking him out 
and bathing him. His mental health 
is far more important than explor- 
ing the interesting avenues opened 
up by this unforeseen development. 

14 1 do intend, however, to make 
one simple test, while he is fully 
awake, before dropping this avenue 
of investigation.” 

Dr. MacNarc docs not state in 
his notes what this test was lo be: 
but his wife says that it probably 
refers to the time when he pinched 
Adam’s tail and Adam complained 
of a sudden, violent headache. This 
transference is the one well known 
to doctors. Unoriented pain in the 
human body manifests itself as a 
“headache,” when the source of the 
pain is actually the stomach, or the 
liver, or any one of a hundred spots 
in the body. 

The last notes made by Dr. Mac- 
Nare were those of June 1 1, 1957. 
and are unimportant except for the 
date. Wc return, therefore, to actual 
events, so far as they can be recon- 
structed. 

We have said little or nothing 
about Dr. MacNare’s life at the uni- 
versity after embarking on the re- 
search project, nor of the social life 
of the MacNares. As conspirators, 
they had kept up their social life 



15 




to avoid any possibility of the board 
getting curious about any radical 
change in Dr. MacNare’s habits; 
but as time went on both Dr. Mac- 
Narr and his wife became so en- 
grossed in their project that only 
with the greatest reluctance did 
they go anywhere. 

The annual faculty party at Pro- 
fessor Long’s on June 12th was 
something they could not evade. 
Not to have gone would have been 
almost tantamount to a resignation 
from the university. 

“Besides,” Alice had said when 
they discussed the matter in May, 
“isn’t it about time to do a little 
hinting that you have something up 
your sleeve?” 

“I don’t know, Alice,” Dr. Mac- 
Nnre had said. Then a smile 
quirked his lips and he said, “I 
wouldn’t mind telling off Veerhof. 
I've never gotten over his deciding 
something was impossible without 
enough data to pass judgment.” 
He frowned. “We are going to have 
to let the world know about Adam 
pretty soon, aren’t wc? That's some- 
thing I haven’t thought about. But 
not yet. Next fail will be time 
enough.” 



Wp|ON’T forget, Joe,” Alice said 
JLF at dinner. “Tonight’s the 
party at Professor Long’s.” 

“How can I forget with you re- 
minding me?” Dr. MacNare said, 
winking at his son. 

“And you, Paul,” Alice said. “I 
don’t want you leaving the house. 
You understand? You can watch 
TV, and I want you in bed by nine 
thirty.” 



“Ah, Mom!” Paul protested. 
“Nine thirty?” He suppressed a 
grin. He had a party of his own 
planned. 

“And you can wipe the dishes for 
me. We have to be at Professor 
Long’s by eight o’clock.” 

“i’ll help you,” Dr. MacNare 
said. 

“No, you have to get ready. Be- 
sides, don’t you have to look up 
something for one of the faculty?” 

“I’d forgotten,” said Dr. Mac- 
Nare. “Thanks for reminding me.” 

After dinner he went directly to 
the study. Adam was sitting on the 
floor playing with his wooden 
blocks. They were alphabet blocks, 
but he didn’t know that yet. The 
summer project was going to be 
teaching him the alphabet. Already, 
though, he preferred placing them 
in straight rows rather than stack- 
ing them up. 

At seven o’clock Alice rapped on 
the door to the study. 

“Time to get dressed, Joe,” she 
called. 

“You’ll be all right while we’re 
gone, Adam?” Dr. MacNare said. 

“I be all right, papa,” Adam said. 
“I sleep.” 

“That’s good,” Dr. MacNare 
said. “I’ll turn out the light.” 

At the door he waited until 
Adam had sat down in the chair he 
always slept on, and settled himself. 
Then he pushed the switch just to 
the right of the door and went out. 

“Hurry, dear,” Alice called. 

“I’m hurrying,” Dr. MacNare 
protested — and, for the first time, 
lie forgot to lock the study door. 

The bathroom was next to the 
study, the wall between them 



16 



ROG PHILLIPS 




soundproofed by a ceiling-high 
bookshelf in the study filled with 
thousands of books. On the other 
side was the master bedroom, with 
a closet with sliding panels that 
opened both on the bedroom and 
the bathroom. These sliding panels 
were partly open, so that Dr. Mac- 
Nare and Alice could talk. 

“Did you lock the study door?” 
“Of course,” Dr. MacNare said. 
“But I’ll check before we leave.” 
“How is Adam taking being alone 
tonight?” Alice called. 

“Okay,” Dr. MacNare said. 
“Damn!” 

“What’s the 'matter, Joe?” 

“I forgot to get razor blades.” 
The conversation died down. 
Alice MacNare finished dressing. 
“Aren’t you ready yet, Joe?” she 
called. “It’s almost a quarter to 
eight.” 

“Be right with you. I nicked my- 
self shaving with an old blade. The 
bleeding’s almost stopped now.” 
Alice went into the living room. 
Paul had turned on the TV and 
was sprawled out on the rug. 

“You be sure and stay home, and 
be in bed by nine thirty, Paul,” she 
said. “Promise?” 

“Ah, Mom,” he protested. “Well, 
all right.” 

Dr. MacNare came into the 
room, still working on his tie. A 
moment later they went out the 
front door. They had been gone 
less than five minutes when there 
was a knock. Paul jumped to his 
feet and opened the door. 

“Hi, Fred, Tony, Bill,” he said. 
The boys, all nine years old, 
sprawled on the rug and watched 
television. It became eight o’clock, 

RAT IN THE SKULL 



eight thirty, and finally five minutes 
to nine. The commercial began. 

“Where’s your bathroom?” Tony 
asked. 

“In there,” Paul said, pointing 
vaguely at the doorway to the hall. 

Tony got up off the floor and 
went into the hall. He saw several 
doors, all looking much alike. He 
picked one and opened it. It was 
dark inside. He felt along the wall 
for a light switch and found it. 
Light flooded the room. He stared 
at what he saw for perhaps ten sec- 
onds, then turned and ran down 
the hall to the living room. 

“Say, Paul!” lie said. “You never 
said anything about having a real 
honest to gosh robot!” 

“What arc you talking about?” 
Paul said. 

“In that room in there!” Tony 
said. “Come on. I’ll show you!” 

The TV program forgotten, Paul, 
Fred, and Bill crowded after him. 
A moment later they stood in the 
doorway to the study, staring in awe 
at the strange figure of metal that 
sat motionless in a chair across the 
room. 

Adam, it seems certain, was 
asleep, and had not been wakened 
by this intrusion nor the turning 
on of the light. 

“Gee!” Paul said. “It belongs to 
Dad. We’d better get out of here.” 

“Naw,” Tony said with a feeling 
of proprietorship at having been the 
original discoverer. “Let’s take a 
look. He’ll never know about it.” 

They crossed the room slowly, 
until they were close up to the robot 
figure, marveling at it, moving 
around it. 

“Say!” Bill whispered, pointing. 

) 7 




“What’s that in there? It looks like 
a white rat with its head stuck into 
that kind of helmet thing.” 

They stared at it a moment. 

“Maybe it’s dead. Let’s see.” 

“How you going to find out?” 

“See those hinges on the cover?” 
Tony said importantly. “Watch.” 
With cautious skill he opened the 
transparent back half of the dome, 
and reached in, wrapping his fin- 
gers around the white rat. 

He was unable to get it loose, but 
he succeeded in pulling its head 
free of the helmet. 

At the same time Adam awoke. 

“Ouch!” Tony cried, jerking his 
hand away. “He bit me!” 

“He’s alive all right,” Bill said. 
“Look at him glare!” He prodded 
the body of the rat and pulled his 
hand away quickly as the rat 
lunged. 

“Gee, look at its eyes,” Paul said 
nervously. “They’re getting blood- 
shot.” 

“Dirty old rat!” Tony said vin- 
dictively, jabbing at the rat with his 
finger and evading the snapping 
teeth. 

“Get its head back in there!” 
Paul said desperately. “I don’t want 
papa to find out we were in here!” 
He reached in, driven by despera- 
tion, pressing the rat’s head between 
his fingers and forcing it back into 
the tight fitting helmet. 

Immediately screaming sounds 
erupted from the lips of the robot. 
(It was determined by later ex- 
amination that only when the rat’s 
body was completely where it should 
be were the circuits operable.) 

“Let’s get out of here!” Tony 
shouted, and dived for the door, 

18 



thereby saving his life. 

“Yeah! Let’s get out of here!” 
Fred shouted as the robot figure 
rose to its feet. Terror enabled him 
to escape. 

Bill and Paul delayed an instant 
too long. Metal fingers seized them. 
Bill’s arm snapped halfway between 
shoulder and elbow. He screamed 
with pain and struggled to free him- 
self. 

Paul was unable to scream. Metal 
fingers gripped his shoulder, with 
a metal thumb thrust deeply against 
his larynx, paralyzing his vocal 
cords. 

Fred and Tony had run into the 
front room. There they waited, 
ready to start running again. They 
could hear Bill’s screams. They 
could hear a male voice jabbering 
nonsense, and finally repeating over 
and over again, “Oh my, oil my, 
oh my,” in a tone all the more hor- 
rible because it portrayed no emo- 
tion whatever. 

Then there was silence. 

The silence lasted several min- 
utes. Then Bill began to sniffle, 
rubbing his knuckles in his eyes. “I 
wanta go home,” he whimpered. 

“Me too.” 

They took each other’s hand and 
tiptoed to the front door, watching 
the open doorway to the hall. When 
they reached the front door Tony 
opened it, and when it was open 
they ran, not stopping to close the 
door behind them. 



T HERE ISN’T much more to 
tell. It is known that Tony and 
Bill arrived at their respective 
homes, saying nothing of what had 

ROG PHILLIPS 




happened. Only later did they come 
forward and admit their share in 
ihc night's events. 

Joe and Alice MacNare arrived 
home from the party at Professor 
Long’s at twelve thirty, finding the 
front door wide open, the lights on 
in the living room, and the tele- 
vision on. 

Sensing that something was 
wrong, Alice hurried to her son’s 
room and discovered he wasn’t 
(here. While she was doing that, Joe 
shut the front door and turned off 
the television. 

Alice returned to the living room, 
eyes round with alarm, and said, 
“‘Paul's not in his room!” 

“Adam!” Joe croaked, and 
rushed into the hallway, with Alice 
following more slowly. 

She reached the open door of 
the study in time to see the robot 
figure pounce on Joe and fasten its 
metal fingers about his throat, 
crushing vertebrae and flesh alike. 

Oblivious to her own danger, she 
rushed to rescue her already dead 
husband, but the metal fingers were 
inflexible. Belatedly she abandoned 
the attempt and ran into the hall- 
way to the phone. 

When the police arrived, they 
found her slumped against the wall 
in the hallway. She pointed toward 
the open doorway of the study, 
without speaking. 

The police rushed into the study. 
At once there came the sounds of 
shots. Dozens of them, it seemed. 
Later both policemen admitted that 
they lost their heads and fired until 
their guns were empty. 

But it was not yet the end of 
Adam. 



It would perhaps be impossible 
to conceive the full horror of his 
last hours, but we can at least make 
a guess. Asleep when the boys en- 
tered the study, he awakened to a 
world he had never before per- 
ceived except very vaguely and un- 
der the soporific veil of opiate. 

But it was a world vastly different 
even than that. There is no way of 
knowing what he saw — probably 
blurred ghostly figures, monstrous 
beyond the ability of his mind to 
grasp, for his eyes were adjusted 
only to the series of prisms and 
lenses that enabled him to see and 
coordinate the images brought to 
him through the eyes of the robot. 

He saw these impossible figures, 
he felt pain and torture that were 
not of the flesh as he knew it, but 
of the spirit; agony beyond agony 
administered by what he could only 
believe were fiends from some 
nether hell. 

And then, abruptly, as ten-ycar- 
old Paul shoved his head back into 
the helmet, the world he had come 
to believe was reality returned. It 
was as though he had returned to 
the body from some awful pit of 
hell, with the soul sickness still with 
him. 

Before him he saw four human- 
like figures of reality, but beings 
unlike the only two he had ever 
seen. Smaller, seeming to be a part 
of the unbelievable nightmare he 
had been in. Two of them fled, two 
were within his grasp. 

Perhaps he didn’t know what he 
was doing when he killed Paul and 
Bill. It’s doubtful if he had the 
ability to think at all then, only to 
tremble and struggle in his pitiful 



RAT IN THE SKULL 



19 




little rat body, with the automatic 
mechanisms of the robot acting 
from those frantic motions. 

But it is known that there were 
three hours between the deaths of 
the two boys and the entry of Dr. 
MacNare at twelve thirty, and dur- 
ing those three hours he would have 
had a chance to recover, and to 
think, and to partially rationalize 
the nightmare he had experienced 
in realms outside what to him was 
the world of reality. 

Adam must certainly have been 
calm enough, rational enough, to 
recognize Dr. MacNare when he 
entered the study at twelve thirty. 

Then why did Adam deliberately 
kill Joe by breaking his neck? Was 
it because, in that three hours, he 
had put together the evidence of 
his senses and come to the realiza- 
tion that he was not a man but a 
rat? 

Its not likely. It is much more 
likely that Adam came to some ab- 
errated conclusion dictated by the 
superstitious feelings that had 
grown so strongly into his strange 
and unique existence, that dictated 
he must kill Joseph. 

For it would have been impossi- 
ble for him to have realized that he 
was only a rat. You see, Joseph 
MacNare had taken great care that 
Adam never, in all his life, should 
see another rat. 

There remains only the end of 
Adam to relate. 

Physically it can be only anti- 
climactic. With his metal body out 



of commission from a dozen or so 
shots, two of which destroyed the 
robot extensions of his eyes, he re- 
mained helpless until the coroner 
carefully removed him. 

To the coroner he was just a white 
rat, and a strangely helpless one, 
unable to walk or stand as rats are 
supposed to. Also a strangely vicious 
one, with red little beads of eyes 
and lips drawn back from sharp 
teeth the same as some rabid wild 
animal. 

The coroner had no way of 
knowing that somewhere in that 
small, menacing form, there was a 
noble but lost mentality that knew 
itself as Adam, and held thoughts 
of a strange and wonderful realm 
of peace and splendor beyond the 
grasp of the normal physical senses. 

The coroner could not know that 
the erratic motions of that small 
left front foot, if connected to the 
proper mechanisms, would have 
been audible as, perhaps, a prayer, 
a desperate plea to whatever lay in 
the Great Beyond to come down 
and rescue its humble creature. 

“Vicious little bastard,” the cor- 
oner said nervously to the homicide 
men gathered around Dr. Mac- 
Nare’s desk. 

“Let me take care of it/’ said 
one of the detectives. 

“No,” the coroner answered. “I’ll 
do it.” 

Quickly, so as not to be bitten, 
he picked Adam up by the tip of 
the tail and slammed him force- 
fully against the top of the desk. 

END 





TWO 

WHOLE 

GLORIOUS 

WEEKS 



ERTHA and I were like a 
couple of city kids on their first 
country outing when we arrived at 
Morton’s place. The weather was 
perfect — the first chill of autumn 
had arrived in the form of a fine, 
needle-shower rain of the type that 
doesn’t look very bad through a 
window, but when you get out in 
it, it seeks out every tiny opening 
between the warp and weft of your 




A new author , and a decidedly unusual idea of the summer 
camp of the future: hard labor, insults, and hog kidneys! 



21 




clothing and runs through your hair 
and eyebrows, under your collar 
and over the surfaces of your body 
until, as though directed by some 
knowing, invisible entity, it finds its 
way to your belly-button. 

It was beautifully timed: the an- 
cient motor-bus had two blowouts 
on the way up the last half-mile of 
corduroy road that led to the place, 
and of course we were obliged to 
change the tires ourselves. This was 
a new experience for both of us, 
and on the very first day! Every- 
thing was as advertised, and we 
hadn’t even arrived at the admis- 
sion gate yet. 

We didn’t dare talk. On the way 
from the heliport we had seen some 
of the other folks at work in the 
swamp that surrounded the camp 
proper. They were digging out 
stumps with mattocks, crowbars 
and axes, and some of them stood 
waist-deep in the dark water. 
Bertha had said “Looky there!” and 
had made some remark about the 
baggy gray coveralls they wore — 
“Just like convicts,” she said. The 
driver, a huge, swinelike creature 
with very small, close-set eyes, had 
yanked the emergency brake and 
wheeled around at us then. 

“You shnooks might just as well 
get outa the habit o’ talkin’ right 
here an’ now. One more peep outa 
ya, ’n ya git clobbered!” 

All we could do was look at each 
other and giggle like a couple of 
kids in the back pew of Sunday 
School, after that. Bertha looked 
ten years younger already. 

The gate was exactly as the 
brochure had pictured it: solid and 
massive, it was let into a board 

22 



fence about ten feet high which ex- 
tended as far as you could see in 
either direction and lost itself on 
either side in a tangle of briers, 
elder bushes and dark trees. There 
were two strands of barbed wire 
running along the top. A sign over 
the gate — stark, black lettering on 
a light gray background — read : 

Silence! — No admission without 
authority — No smoking ! 

*** MORTON’S MISERY 
FARM *** 

30 acres of swamp — Our own rock 
quarry — Jute Mill — Steam laundry 
Harshest dietary laws in the 
Catskills 

A small door opened at one side 
of the gate and a short, stocky, well- 
muscled woman in a black visored 
cap and a shapeless black uniform 
came out and boarded the bus. She 
had our releases with her, fastened 
to a clipboard. She thrust this un- 
der my nose. 

“Read and sign, shnook!” she 
said in a voice that sounded like 
rusty boiler plate being torn away 
from more rusty boiler plate. 

The releases were in order. Our 
hands shook a little when we signed 
the papers; there was something so 
terribly final and irreversible about 
it. There would be no release ex- 
cept in cases of severe medical com- 
plaint, external legal involvement 
or national emergency. We were 
paid up in advance, of course. 
There was no turning away. 

Another attendant, who also 
looked like a matron of police, 
boarded the bus with a large suit- 
case and two of the baggy gray gar- 

WILL WORTHINGTON 




mcnts we had seen the others wear- 
ing in the swamp. No shoes, socks 
or underwear. 

“Strip and pack your clothes 
hero, shnooks,” said the woman 
with the empty suitcase. We did, 
(hough it was pretty awkward . . . 
standing there in the aisle of the 
bus with those two gorgons staring 
at us. I started to save out a pack 
of cigarettes, but was soon dis- 
abused of this idea. The older of 
the two women knocked the pack 
from my hand, ground it under her 
heel on the floor and let me have 
one across the face with what I am 
almost certain must have been an 
old sock full of rancid hog kidneys. 

“What the hell was that?” I 
protested. 

“Sock fulla hog kidneys, shnook. 
Soft but heavy, know what I mean? 
just let us do the thinkin 5 around 
here. Git outa line just once an 5 
you 11 see what wc can do with a 
sock fulla hog kidneys.” 

I didn’t press the matter further. 
All I could think of was. how I 
wafited a smoke just then. When I 
thought of the fresh, new pack of 
cigarettes with its unbroken cello- 
phane and its twenty, pure white 
cylinders of fragrant Turkish and 
Virginia, I came as close to weep- 
ing as I had in forty years. 

The ground was slimy and cold 
under our bare feet when we got 
down from the bus, but the two 
viragos behind us gave us no time 
to pick our way delicately over the 
uneven ground. We were propelled 
through the small door at the side 
of the gate, and at last wc found 
ourselves within the ten-foot bar- 
riers of the Misery Camp. We just 

TWO WHOLE GLORIOUS WEEKS 



looked at each other and giggled. 

Inside the yard, about twenty 
other guests shuffled around and 
around in a circle. Their gray cov- 
eralls were.dark and heavy with the 
rain and clung to their bodies in 
clammy-looking patches. All moved 
sluggishly through the mud with 
their arms hanging slack at their 
sides, their shoulders hunched for- 
ward against the wet chill, and 
their eyes turned downward, as 
though they were fascinated with 
the halting progress of their own 
feet. I had never seen people look 
so completely dispirited and tired. 
Only one man raised his head to 
look at us as we stood there. I 
noticed that his forehead had bright 
purple marks on it. These proved 
to be “No. 94 , Property of MMF 33 
in inch-high letters which ran from 
temple to temple just above his eye- 
brows. Incredibly enough the man 
grinned at us. 

“You’ll be sah-reecee,” he yelped. 
I saw him go down into the mud 
under a blow with a kidney-sock 
from a burly male guard who had 
been standing in the center of the 
cheerless little circle. 

“Leave the welcoming cere- 
monies to us, knoedelhead!” barked 
the guard. The improvident guest 
rose painfully and resumed his plod- 
ding with the rest. I noticed that he 
made no rejoinder. He cringed. 

We were led into a small office 
at one end of a long, wooden, one- 
story building. A sign on the door 
said, simply, “ Admissions . Knock 
and Remove Hat. 33 The lady guard 
knocked and we entered. We had 
no hats to remove ; indeed, this was 
emphasized for us by the fact that 

23 




the rain had by now penetrated our 
hair and brows and was running 
down over our faces annoyingly. 

A S SOON as I’d blinked the rain 
from my eyes, I was able to see 
the form of the person behind the 
desk with more clarity than I might 
have wished. He was large, but ter- 
ribly emaciated, with the kind of 
gauntness that should be covered 
by a sheet — tenderly, reverently and 
finally. Picture the archetype of 
every chain-gang captain who has 
been relieved for inhumanity to 
prisoners; imagine the naked at- 
tribute Meanness, stripped of all ac- 
cidental, incongruous, mitigating 
integument; picture all kindness, all 
mercy, all warmth, all humanity 
excised or cauterized, or turned 
back upon itself and let ferment in- 
to some kind of noxious mash; vis- 
ualize the creature from which all 
the gentle qualities had been ex- 
punged, thus, and then try to forget 
the image. 

The eyes were perhaps the worst 
feature. They burned like tiny phos- 
phorescent creatures, dimly visible 
deep inside a cave under dark, 
overhanging cliffs — the brows. The 
skin of the face was drawn over 
the bones so tautly that you felt a 
sharp rap with a hard object would 
cause the sharp cheekbones to break 
through. There was a darkness 
about the skin that should have 
been, yet somehow did not seem to 
be the healthy tan of outdoor liv- 
ing. It was a coloring that came 
from the inside and radiated out- 
wards; perhaps pellagra — a wast- 
ing, darkening malnutritional dis- 

24 



case which no man had suffered 
for three hundred years. I won- 
dered where, where on the living 
earth, they had discovered such a 
specimen. 

“I am in full charge here. You 
will speak only when spoken to,” he 
said. His voice came as a surprise 
and, to me at least, as a profound 
relief. I had expected an inarticu- 
late drawl — something not yet lan- 
guage, not quite human. Instead 
Ills voice was clipped, precise, clear 
as new type on white paper. This 
gave me hope at a time when hope 
was at a dangerously low mark on 
my personal thermometer. My 
mounting misgivings had come to 
focus on this grim figure behind the 
desk, and the most feared quality 
that I had seen in the face, a hard, 
sharp, immovable and imponder- 
able stupidity, was strangely miti- 
gated and even contradicted by the 
flawless, mechanical speech of the 
man. 

“What did you do on the Out- 
side, shnook?” he snapped at me. 

“Central Computing and Con- 
trol. I punched tapes. Only got four 
hours of work a month,” I said, 
hoping to cover myself with a pro- 
tective film of humility. 

“Hah! Another low-hour man. T 
don't sec how the hell you could 
afford to come here. Well, anyway 
— we’ve got work for climbers like 
you. Real work, shnook. I know 
climbers like you hope you’ll meet 
aristocracy in a place like this — 
ten hour men or even weekly work- 
ers, but I can promise you, shnook, 
that you’ll be too damned tired to 
disport yourself socially, and too 
damned busy looking at your toes. 

WILL WORTHINGTON 




Don’t forget that!" 

Remembering, I looked down 
quickly, but not before one of the 
matrons behind me had fetched me 
;i solid clout on the side of the head 
with her sap. 

“Mark ’em and put ’em to work,” 
he barked at the guards. Two uni- 
formed men, who must have 
sneaked in while I was fascinated 
by the man behind the desk, seized 
me and started painting my fore- 
head with an acrid fluid that stung 
like strong disinfectant in an open 
wound. I squinted my eyes and 
tried to look blank. 

“This is indelible,” one of them 
explained. “We have the chemical 
to take it off, but it doesn’t come 
off till we say so.” 

When I had been marked, one of 
the guards took his ink and brush 
and advanced upon Bertha. The 
other addressed himself to me. 
“There is a choice of activities. 
There is the jute mill, the rock 
quarry, the stump-removal detail, 
the manure pile. . . .” 

“How about the steam laundry?” 
I asked, prompted now by the cold 
sound of a sudden gust of rain 
against the wooden side of the 
building. 

Splukk ! went the guard’s kidney- 
sock as it landed on the right hinge 
of my jaw. Soft or not, it nearly 
dropped me. 

“I said there is a choice — not you 
have a choice, shnook. Besides, the 
steam laundry is for the ladies. 
Don’t forget who’s in charge here.” 

“Who is in charge here, then?” 
I asked, strangely emboldened by 
the clout on the side of the jaw. 

Splukk! “That’s somethin’ you 

TWO WHOLE GLORIOUS WEEKS 



don’t need to know, shnook. You 
ain’t gonna sue nobody. You signed 
a release — remember?” 

I had nothing to say. My toes, I 
noted, looked much the same. 
Then, behind my hack, I heard a 
sharp squeal from Bertha. “Stop 
that! Oh stop! Stop! The brochure 
said nothing about — ” 

“Take it easy lady,” said the 
other guard in an oily-nasty voice. 
“I won’t touch you none. Just 
wanted to see if you was amenable.” 
I would like more than anything 
else in the world to be able to say 
honestly that I felt a surge of anger 
then. I didn’t. I can remember with 
terrible clarity that I felt nothing. 

“So he wants a nice inside job in 
the steam laundry?” said the man 
behind the desk — “the captain,” we 
were instructed to call him. An- 
other gust of wet wind joined his 
commems. “Put him on ‘The Big 
Rock Candy Mountain. 1 ” He fixed 
rnc then with those deep-set, glow- 
worm eyes, coldly appraising. The 
two Sisters of Gorgonia, meanwhile, 
seized Bertha’s arms and dragged 
her from the room. I did not try \c 
follow. I knew the rules : there were 
to be three husband-and-wife visit- 
ing hours per week. Fifteen minutes 
each. 

The Captain was still scrutiniz- 
ing me from under the dark cliff of 
his brow. A thin smile now took 
shape on his lipless mouth. One of 
the guards was beating a slow, meas- 
ured, somewhat squudgy tattoo on 
the edge of the desk with his kid- 
ney-sock. 

“You wouldn’t be entertaining 
angry thoughts, would you 
shnook?” asked the Captain, after 

25 




what seemed like half an hour of 
sickly pause. 

My toes hadn’t changed in the 
slightest respect. 

I T MUST have been then, or 
soon after that, that my sense of 
time went gently haywire. I was 
conducted to “The Big Rock 
Candy Mountain,” which turned 
out to be a Brobdingnagian manure 
heap. Its forbidding bulk overshad- 
owed all other features of the land- 
scape except some of the larger 
trees. 

A guard stood in the shadow of 
a large umbrella, at a respectable 
and tolerable distance from the 
nitrogenous colossus, but not so dis- 
tant that his voice did not command 
the entire scene. “Hut-ho! Iiut-ho ! 
Hut-ho HAW ! 93 he roared, and the 
wretched, gray-clad figures, whose 
number I joined without ceremony 
or introduction, moved steadily at 
their endless work in apparent un- 
awarencss of his cadenccd chant. 

I do not remember that anyone 
spoke to me directly or, at least, 
coherently enough so that words 
lodged in my memory, but some- 
one must have explained the gen- 
eral pattern of activity. The object, 
it seemed, was to move all this 
soggy fertilizer from its present im- 
posing site to another small but 
growing pile located about three 
hundred yards distant. This we 
were to accomplish by filling paper 
cement hags with the manure and 
carrying it, a bag at a time, to the 
more distant pile. Needless to say, 
the bags frequently dissolved or 
burst at the lower seams. This 



n leant scraping up the stuff with 
the hands and refilling another 
paper bag. Needless to say, also, 
pitchforks and shovels were forbid- 
den at the Farm, as was any po- 
tentially dangerous object which 
could be lifted, swung or hurled. 
It would have been altogether re- 
dundant to explain this rule. 

I have absolutely no way of 
knowing how long we labored at 
this Augean enterprise; my watch 
had been taken from me, of course, 
and of the strange dislocation of 
my normal time-sense I have al- 
ready spoken. I do remember that 
floodlights had been turned on long 
before a raucous alarm sounded, in- 
dicating that it was time for supper. 

My weariness from the unaccus- 
tomed toil had carried me past the 
point of hunger, but I do remem- 
ber my first meal at the Farm. Wc 
had dumplings. You usually think 
fondly of dumplings as being in or 
with something. We had just dump- 
lings — cold and not quite cooked 
through. 

Impressions of this character 
have a way of entrenching them- 
selves, perhaps at the cost of more 
meaningful ones. Conversation at 
the Farm was monosyllabic and in- 
frequent, so it may merely be that 
I recall most lucidly those incidents 
with which some sort of communi- 
cation was associated. A small man 
sitting opposite me in the mess hall 
gloomily indicated the dumpling at 
which I was picking dubiously. 

“They’ll bind ya,” he said with 
the finality of special and personal 
knowledge. “Ya don’t wanta let 
yaself get bound here. They’ve got 
a— 5 ’ 



26 



WILL WORTHINGTON 




I don’t now recall whether I said 
something or whether I merely held 
up my hand. I do know that I had 
no wish to dwell on the subject. 

If I had hoped for respite after 
“supper,” it was at that time that I 
learned not to hope. Back to “The 
Big Rock Candy Mountain” we 
went, and under the bleak, irides- 
cent glare of the lights we resumed 
our labor of no reward. One by one 
I felt my synapses parting, and one 
by one, slowly and certainly, the 
fragile membranes separating the 
minute from the hour, the Now 
from the Then, and the epoch out 
of unmeasured time sof tened and 
sloughed away. I was, at last, Num- 
ber 109 at work on a monstrous 
manure pile, and I labored with the 
muscles and nerves of an undif- 
ferentiated man. I experienced 
change. 

I knew now that my identity, rny 
ego, was an infinitesimal diing 
which rode along embedded in a 
mountain of more or less integrated 
organisms, more or less purposeful 
tissues, fluids and loosely articulated 
bones, as a tiny child rides in the 
cab of a locomotive. And the rain 
came down and the manure bags 
broke and wc scrabbled with our 
hands to refill new ones. 

The raucous alarm sounded 
again, and a voice which might 
have been that of a hospital nurse 
or of an outraged parrot announced 
that it was time for “Beddy-by.” 
And in a continuous, unbroken mo- 
tion we slogged into another long- 
building, discarded our coveralls, 
waded through a shallow tank of 
cloudy disinfectant solution and 
were finally hosed down by the 

TWO WHOLE GLORIOUS WEEKS 



guards. I remember observing to 
myself giddily that I now knew how 
cars must feel in an auto laundry. 
There were clean towels waiting for 
us at the far end of the long build- 
ing, but I must have just blotted 
the excess water oil' mysell in a 
perfunctory way, because I still felt 
wet when I donned the clean cov- 
erall that someone handed me. 

“Beddy-by” was one of a row of 
thirty-odd slightly padded planks 
like ironing boards, which were ar- 
ranged at intervals of less than 
three feet in another long, low- 
ed I inged barracks. I knew that I 
would find no real release in 
“Bcddy-by” only another dimen- 
sion of that abiding stupor which 
now served me for consciousness. I 
may have groaned, creaked, whim- 
pered, or expressed myself in some 
other inarticulate way as l meas- 
ured the length of the board with 
my carcass; I only remember that 
the others did so. There was an un- 
shaded light bulb hanging directly 
over my face. To this day, I cannot 
be sure that this bleak beacon was 
ever turned off. I think not. I can 
only say with certainty that it was 
burning just as brightly when the 
raucous signal sounded again, and 
the unoiled voice from the loud- 
speaker announced that it was time 
for the morning Cheer-Up Enter- 
tainment. 



T HESE orgies, it turned out, were 
held in the building housing 
the admission office. There was a 
speech choir made up of elderly 
women, all of whom wore the black 
uniform of the Farm matrons. The 

71 




realization that a speech choir still 
existed may have startled me into a 
somewhat higher state of aware- 
ness; I had assumed that the speech 
choir had gone out with hair-receiv- 
ers and humoristic medicine. The 
things they recited were in a child- 
ishly simple verse form: One and 
two ami three and four; One and 
two and THREE. These verses had 
to do with the virtues of endless 
toil, the importance of thrift, and 
the hideous dangers lurking in ciga- 
rette smoking and needless borrow- 
ing. 

I am happy to report that I do 
not remember them more specifical- 
ly than this, but I was probably 
more impressed by the delivery 
than the message delivered. I could 
not imagine where they had dis- 
covered these women. During their 
performance, some sense of dura- 
tion was restored to me; while I 
could be certain of nothing pertain- 
ing to the passage of time, it is not 
possible that the Ghecr-Up period 
lasted less than two hours. Then 
they let us go to the latrine. 

After a breakfast of boiled cab- 
bage and dry pumpernickel crusts 
— more savory than you might 
imagine — we were assigned to our 
work for the day. I had expected 
to return to the manure pile, but 
got instead the rock quarry. I re- 
member observing then, with no 
surprise at all, that the sun was out 
and the day promised to he a hot 
one. 

The work at the rock quarry was 
organized according to the same 
futilitarian pattern that governed 
the manure-pile operation. Rock 
had to be hacked, pried and blasted 



from one end of the quarry, then re- 
duced to coarse gravel with sledge- 
hammers and carted to the other 
end of the excavation in wheel- 
barrows. Most of the men com- 
menced working at some task in the 
quarry with the automatic uncon- 
cern of trained beasts who have 
paused for rest and water, perhaps, 
but have never fully stopped. A 
guard indicated a wheelbarrow to 
me and uttered a sharp sound 
something like HUP! I picked up 
the smooth handles of the barrow, 
and time turned its back upon us 
again. 

It was that night — or perhaps the 
following night — that Bertha and I 
had our first fifteen-minute visit 
with each other. She was changed : 
her face glowed with fevcrisli vital- 
ity, her hair was stringy and moist, 
and her eyes were serenely glassy. 
She had not been more provocative 
in twenty-five years. An old dor- 
mant excitement stirred within me 
— microscopically but unmistakably. 

She told me that she had been 
put to work in the jute mill, but 
had passed out and had been trans- 
ferred to the steam laundry. Her 
job in the laundry was to sort out 
the socks and underwear that were 
too had to go in with the rest of the 
wash. We specula le d on where the 
socks and underwear could have 
come from, as such fripperies were 
denied to us at the Farm. We also 
wondered about the manure, con- 
sidering that no animals were in 
evidence here. Both, wc concluded, 
must have been shipped in special- 
ly from the Outside. We found it in 
us to giggle, when the end of the 
visit was announced, over our own 



28 



WILL WORTHINGTON 




choice of conversational material 
lor that precious quarter hour. 
Thereafter, when we could catch 
glimpses of each other during the 
day, we would exchange furtive sig- 
nals, then go about our work ex- 
hilarated by the fiction that wc 
shared some priceless Cabalistic 
knowledge. 

The grim Captain made an ap- 
pearance in the rock quarry one 
morning just as we were beginning 
work. He stood on top of a pile of 
stones, swinging his kidney-sap from 
his wrist and letting his eyes sweep 
over us as though selecting one for 
slaughter. 

When the silence had soaked in 
thoroughly, he announced in his 
cold, incisive tone that “there will 
be no rest periods, no chow, no 
Beddy-by,' until this entire rock 
face is reduced to ballast rock." He 
indicated a towering slab of stone. 
Wc raised our heads only long- 
enough to reassure ourselves of the 
utter hopelessness of the task before 
us. Not daring to look at each other 
closely, fearing to see our own de- 
spair reflected in the faces of others, 
we picked up our hammers and 
crowbars and crawled to the top of 
the monolithic mass. The film must 
have cleared from my eyes then, 
momentarily. 

“Why — this thing is nothing but 
a huge writing slate,” I said to a 
small, bald inmate beside me. He 
made a feeble noise in reply. The 
Captain left, and the only other 
guard now relaxed in the shade of 
a boulder nearly fifty yards away. 
He was smoking a forbidden cigar. 
Suddenly and unaccountably, I felt 
a little taller than the others, and 

TWO WHOLE GLORIOUS WEEKS 



everything looked unnaturally clear. 
The slab was less than six inches 
wide at the top! 

“If we work this thing right, this 
job will practically do itself. We'll 
be through here before sundown,'' 
I heard myself snap out. The others, 
accustomed now to obeying any’ im- 
perative voice, fell to with crow- 
bars and peaveys as I directed them. 
“Use them as levers,” I said. “Don’t 
just flail and hack — pry!” No one 
questioned me. When all of the 
tools were in position I gave the 
count: 

“One— two— HEAVE!” 

The huge slab finally leaned out, 
wavered fpr a queasy moment, then 
fell with a splintering crash onto 
the boulders below. After the dust 
settled, we could see that much of 
the work of breaking up the mass 
was already accomplished. We de- 
scended and set to work with an 
enthusiasm that was new. 

Long before sundown, of course, 
we were marched back to the latrine 
and then to the mess hall. Later I 
had expected that some further 
work would be thrust upon us, but 
it didn’t happen. The grim Captain 
stopped me as I entered the mess 
hall. I froze. There was a queer 
smile on his face, and I had grown 
to fear novelty. 

“You had a moment,” he said, 
simply and declaratively. “You 
didn’t miss it, did you?” 

“No,” I replied, not fully under- 
standing. “No, I didn’t miss it.” 

“You are more fortunate than 
most," he weni no, still standing 
between me and the mess hall. 
“Some people come here year after 
year, or they go to other places like 

?9 




this, or permit themselves to he con- 
fined in the ] lulls of old submarines, 
nnd some even apprentice them- 
selves to medical missionaries in 
Equatorial Africa: they expose 

themselves to every conceivable 
combination of external conditions, 
but nothing really happens to them. 
They feel nothing except a fleeting 
sensation of contrast — soon lost in 
a torrent of other sensations. No 
‘moment’: only a brief cessation of 
the continuing pleasure process. 
You have been one of the fortunate 
Jew, Mr. Dcvotv’ 

Then the film dissolved — finally 
Lind completely— from the surface 
of my brain, and my sense of time 
returned to me in a flood of or- 
dered recollections. Hours and days 
began to arrange themselves into 
meaningful sequence. Was it pos- 
sible that two whole glorious -weeks 
could have passed so swiftly? 

'‘You and Mrs. Devoe may leave 
tonight or in the morning, just as 
you prefer/’ said the Captain. 

ERTHA and 1 have had little 
to say to one another as we 
wait in the office for the car that 
will take us to the heliport. For 
the rrtoment — this moment — it suf- 
fices that we stand here in our own 
clothes, that wc have tasted coffee 
again, brought to us on a tray by a 
matron whose manner towards us 
bordered on the obsequious, and 
that the aroma of a cigarette is just 
as gratifying as ever. 

We will go back to our ten-room 
apartment on the ninety-first floor 
of the New Empire State Hotel; 



back to our swimming pool, our 
three-dimensional color television, 
our anti-gravity sleeping chambers, 
our impeccably efficient, relentless- 
ly cheerful robot servants, and our 
library of thrills, entertainment, sol- 
ace, diversion and escape — all im- 
pressed on .magnetic tape and 
awaiting our pleasure. 

1 will go back to my five kinds of 
cigars and my sixteen kinds of 
brandy; Bertha will return to her 
endless fantasy of pastries and des- 
serts- — an endless, joyous parade of 
goodies, never farther away than 
the nearest dumb-waiter door. And 
wc will both become softer, heavier, 
a little less responsive. 

When, as sometimes happens, the 
sweet lethargy threatens to choke 
off our breath, wc will step into our 
flying platform and set its auto- 
matic controls for Miami, Palm 
Beach, or the Cote d’Azur. There 
are conducted lours to the Hima- 
layas now, or to the “lost’ 5 cities of 
the South American jungles, or to 
the bottom of any one of the seven 
seas. We will bide our time, much 
as others do. 

But we will survive these things: 
I still have my four hours per month 
at Central Computing and Control ; 
Bertha has her endless and endlessly 
varying work on committees (the 
last one was dedicated to the aboli- 
tion of gambling at Las Vegas in 
favor of such wholesome games as 
Scrabble and checkers). 

Wc cannot soften and slough 
away altogether, for when all else 
fails, when the last stronghold of 
the spirit is in peril, there is always 
the vision of year’s end and another 
glorious vacation. END 




10 



V/ILL WORTHINGTON 





"Quick! I'm off!' 

SATELLITE PASSAGE 

BY THEODORE L. THOMAS 



It had to come sooner or later 
— the perilous moment when 
Our satellite crossed the orbit 
of Theirs . . . 



HE THREE men bent over 
the chart and once again com- 
puted the orbit. It was quiet in the 
satellite, a busy quiet broken by the 
click of seeking inicroswitches and 
the gentle purr of smooth-running 
motors. The deep pulsing throb of 
the air conditioner had stopped: the 
satellite was in the Earth’s shadow 
and there was no need for cooling 
the interior. 




31 



“Well,” said Morgan, “it checks. 
We'll pass within fifty feet of the 
other satellite. Too close. Think we 
ought to move?” 

Kaufman looked at him and did 
not speak. McNary glanced up and 
snorted. Morgan nodded. He said, 
“That’s right. If there’s any moving 
to be done, let them do it.” He felt 
a curious nascent emotion, a blend 
of anger and exhilaration — very 
faint now, just strong enough to be 
recognizable. The pencil snapped 
in his fingers, and he stared at it, 
and smiled. 

Kaufman said, “Any way we can 
reline this a little? Fifty feet cuts it 
kind of close.” 

They were silent, and the 
murmuring of machinery filled the 
cramped room. “How’s this?” said 
McNary. “Wait till we see the other 
satellite, take a couple of readings 
on it, and compute the orbit again. 
We’d have about five minutes to 
make the calculations. Morgan here 
can do it in less than that. Then 
we’d know if we’re on a collision 
course.” 

Morgan nodded. “We could do 
it that way.” He studied the chart 
in front of him. “The only thing, 
those boys on the other satellite will 
see what we’re doing. They’ll know 
we’re afraid of a collision. They’ll 
radio it down to Earth, and — you 
know the Russian mind — we’ll lose 
face.” 

“That so bad?” asked Kaufman. 

Morgan stared at the chart. He 
answered softly, “Yes, I think it is. 
The Russians will milk it dry if we 
make any move to get our satellite 
out of the way of theirs. We can’t 
do that to our people.” 

32 



McNary nodded. Kaufman said, 
“Agree. Just wanted to throw it out. 
We stay put. We hit, we hit.” 

The other two looked at Kauf- 
man. The abrupt dismissal of a seri- 
ous problem was characteristic of 
the little astronomer; Kaufman 
wasted no time with second guesses. 
A decision made was a fact accom- 
plished; it was over. 

Morgan glanced at McNary to 
see how he was taking it. McNary, 
now, big as he was, was a worrier. 
He stood ready to change his mind 
at any time, whenever some new 
alternative looked better. Only the 
soundness of his judgment pre- 
vented his being putty in any strong 
hands. He was a meteorologist, and 
a good one. 

“You know,” said McNary, “I 
still can’t quite believe it. Two satel- 
lites, one pole-to-pole, the other 
equatorial, both having apogees 
and perigees of different elevations 
— yet they wind up on what 
amounts to a collision course.” 

Morgan said, “That’s what re- 
gression will do for you. But we 
haven’t got any time for that; we’ve 
got to think this out. Let’s see, 
they’ll be coming up from below us 
at passage. Can we make anything 
of that?” 

There was silence while the three 
men considered it. Morgan’s mind 
was focussed on the thing that was 
about to happen; but wisps of 
memory intruded. Faintly he could 
hear the waves, smell the bite in 
the salt sea air. A man who had 
sailed a thirty-two-foot ketch alone 
into every comer of the globe never 
thereafter quite lost the sound of 
the sea in his car. And the struggle, 

THEODORE L. THOMAS 




i he duel, the strain of outguessing 
the implacable elements, there was 
a test of a man. . . . 

“Better be outside in any case,” 
said Kaufman. “Suited up and out- 
side. They’ll see us, and know we 
intend to do nothing to avoid col- 
lision. Also, we’ll be in a better po- 
sition to cope with anything that 
comes along, if we’re in the suits.” 

Morgan and McNary nodded, 
and again there was talk. They dis- 
cussed the desirability of radio com- 
munication with the other satellite, 
and decided against it. To keep 
their own conversations private, 
they agreed to use telephone com- 
munication instead of radio. When 
the discussion trailed off, Kaufman 
said, “Be some picture, if we have 
the course computed right. We 
stand there and wave at ’em as they 
go by.” 

Morgan tried to see it in his 
mind: three men standing on a 
long, slim tube, and waving at three 
men on another. The first rocket 
passage, and men waving. And 
then Morgan remembered some- 
thing, and the image changed. 

He saw the flimsy, awkward 
planes sputtering past each other 
on the morning’s mission. The 
pilots, detached observers, non- 
combatants really, waved at each 
other as the rickety planes passed. 
Kindred souls they were, high above 
the walks of normal men. So they 
waved . . . for a while. 

Morgan said, “Do you suppose 
they’ll try anything?” 

“Like what?” said Kaufman. 

“Like knocking us out of orbit if 
they can. Like shooting at us if they 
have a gun. Like throwing some- 

5ATELLITE PASSAGE 



thing at us, if they’ve got nothing 
better to do.” 

“My God,” said McNary, “you 
think they might have brought a 
gun up here?” 

Morgan began examining the in- 
terior of the tiny cabin. Slowly he 
turned his head, looking at one 
piece of equipment after another, 
visualizing what was packed away 
under it and behind it. To the right 
of the radio was the spacesuit 
locker, and his glance lingered 
there. He reached over, opened the 
door and slipped a hand under the 
suits packed in the locker. For a 
moment he fumbled and then he 
sat back holding an oxygen flask in 
his hand. He hefted the small steel 
flask and looked at Kaufman. “Gan 
you think of anything better than 
tills for throwing?” 

Kaufman took it and hefted it in 
his turn, and passed it to McNary. 
McNary did the same and then 
carefully held it in front of him and 
took his hand away. The flask re- 
mained poised in mid-air, motion- 
less. Kaufman shook his head and 
said. “I can’t think of anything bet- 
ter. It’s got good mass, fits the hand 
well. It’ll do.” 

Morgan said, “Another thing. 
We clip extra flasks to our belts and 
they look like part of the standard 
equipment. It won’t be obvious that 
we’re carrying something we can 
throw.” 

McNary gently pushed the flask 
toward Morgan, who caught it and 
replaced it. McNary said, “I used 
to throw a hot pass at Berkeley. I 
wonder how the old arm is.” 

The discussion went on. At one 
point the radio came to life and 



33 




Kaufman had a lengthy conversa- 
tion with one of the control points 
on the surface of the planet below. 
They talked in code. It was agreed 
that the American satellite should 
not move to make room for the 
other, and this information was 
carefully leaked so the Russians 
would be aware of the decision. 

The only difficulty was that the 
Russians also leaked the informa- 
tion that their satellite would not 
move, either. 

A final check of the two orbits 
revealed no change. Kaufman 
switched off the set. 

“That,” he said, “is the whole of 
it” 

“They’re leaving us pretty much 
on our own,” said McNary. 

“Couldn’t be any other way,” 
Morgan answered. “We’re the ones 
at the scene. Besides — ” he smiled 
his tight smile — “they trust us.” 

Kaufman snorted. “Ought to. 
They went to enough trouble to 
pick us.” 

McNary looked at the chronom- 
eter and said, “Three quarters of 
an hour to passage. We’d better suit 
up.” 

M organ nodded and 

reached again into the suit 
locker. The top suit was McNary’s, 
and as he worked his way into it, 
Morgan and Kaufman pressed 
against the walls to give him room. 
Kaufman was next, and then Mor- 
gan. They sat out the helmets, and 
while Kaufman and McNary made 
a final check of the equipment, 
Morgan took several sights to veri- 
fy their position. 

34 



“Luck,” said Kaufman, and 
dropped his helmet over his head. 
The others followed and they all 
went through the air-sealing check- 
off. They passed the telephone wire 
around, and tested the circuit. 
Morgan handed out extra oxygen 
flasks, three for each. Kaufman 
waved, squeezed into the air lock 
and pulled the hatch closed bcliind 
him. McNary went next, then 
Morgan. 

Morgan carefully pulled himself 
erect alongside the outer hatch and 
plugged the telephone jack into his 
helmet. As he straightened, he saw 
the Earth directly in front of him. 
It loomed large, visible as a great 
mass of blackness cutting off the 
harsh white starshine. The black- 
ness was smudged with irregular 
pale lies of oratigish light that 
marked the cities of Earth. 

Morgan betaine aware that Mc- 
Nary, beside him, was pointing to- 
ward the center of the Earth. Fol- 
lowing the line of his finger Morgan 
could see a slight flicker of light 
against the blackness; it was so faint 
that he had to look above it to see 
it. 

“Storm,” said McNary. “Just be- 
low the equator. It must be a pip 
if we can see the lightning through 
the clouds from here. Fve been 
watching it develop for the last two 
days.” 

Morgan stared, and nodded to 
himself. He knew what it was like 
down there. The familiar feeling 
was building up, stronger now as 
the time to passage drew closer. 
First the waiting. The sea, restless 
in expectancy as the waves tossed 
their hoary manes. The gathering 

THEODORE L. THOMAS 




majesty of the elements, reaching, 
searching, striving. . . . And if at 
the height of the contest the 
screaming wind snatched up and 
smothered a defiant roar from a 
mortal throat, there was none to 
tell of it. 

Then the time came when the 
forces waned. A slight let-up at 
first, then another. Soon the toothed 
and jagged edge of the waves sub- 
sided, the hard side-driven spray 
and rain assumed a more normal 
direction. 

The man looked after the depart- 
ing storm, and there was pain in his 
eyes, longing. Almost, the words 
rose to his lips, “Come back, I am 
still here, do not leave me, come 
back.” But the silent supplication 
went unanswered, and the man was 
left with a taste of glory gone, with 
an emptiness that drained the soul. 
The encounter hacl ended, the man 
had won. But the winning was bit- 
ter. The hard fight was not hard 
enough. Somewhere there must be 
a test sufficient to try the mettle of 
this man. Somewhere there was a 
crucible hot enough to float any 
dross. But where? The man 
searched and searched, but could 
not find it. 

Morgan turned his head away 
from the storm and saw that Kauf- 
man and McNary had walked to 
the top of thttj satellite. Carefully 
he turned his body and began plac- 
ing one foot in front of the other 
to join them. Yes, he thought, men 
must always be on top, even if the 
top is only a state of mind. Here on 
the outer surface of the satellite, 
clinging to the metallic skin with 
shoes of magnetized alloy, there 

SATELLITE PASSAGE 



was no top. One direction was the 
same as another, as with a fly walk- 
ing on a chandelier. Yet some pri- 
mordial impulse drove a man to 
that position which he considered 
the top, drove him to stand with 
his feet pointed toward the Earth 
and his head toward the outer 
reaches where the stars moved. 

Walking under these conditions 
was difficult, so Morgan moved 
with care. The feet could easily 
tread ahead of the man without his 
knowing it, or they could lag be- 
hind. A slight unthinking motion 
could detach the shoes from the 
satellite, leaving the man floating 
free, unable to return. So Morgan 
moved with care, keeping the tele- 
phone line clear with one hand. 

When he reached the others, 
Morgan stopped and looked 
around. The sight always gave him 
pause. It was not pretty; rather, it 
was harsh and garish like the rau- 
cous illumination of a honkytonk 
saloon. The black was too black, 
and the stars burned too white. 
Everything appeared sharp and 
hard, with none of the softness seen 
from the Earth. 

Morgan stared, and his lips 
curled back over his teeth. The an- 
ticipation inside him grew greater. 
No sound and fury here; the men- 
ace was of a different sort. Loom- 
ing. quietly foreboding, it was 
everywhere. 

Morgan leaned back to look over- 
head, and his lips curled further. 
This was where it might come, this 
was the place. Raw space, where a 
man moved and breathed in mo- 
mentary peril, where cosmic debris 
formed arrow-swift reefs on which* 



35 




to founder, where star-born parti- 
cles traveled at unthinkable speeds 
out of the macrocosm seeking some 
fragile microcosm to shatter. 

“Sun.” Kaufman’s voice echoed 
tinnily inside the helmet. Morgan 
brought his head down. There, 
ahead, a tinge of deep red edged a 
narrow segment of the black Earth. 
The red brightened rapidly, and 
broadened. Morgan reached to one 
side of his helmet and dropped a 
filter into place; he continued to 
stare at the sun. 



M cNARY SAID, “Ten minutes 
to passage.” 

Morgan unhooked one of the 
oxygen cylinders at his belt and 
said, “We need some practice. We’d 
better try throwing one of these 
now; not much time left.” He 
turned sideways ancl made several 
throwing motions with his right 
hand without releasing the cylin- 
der. “Better lean into it more than 
you would down below. Well, here 
goes.” He pushed the telephone 
line clear of his right side and 
leaned back, raising his right arm. 
He began to lean forward. When it 
seemed that he must topple, he 
snapped his arm down and threw 
the cylinder. The recoil straight- 
ened him neatly, and he stood se- 
curely upright. The cylinder shot 
out and down in a straight line and 
was quickly lost to sight. 

“Very nice,” said McNary. 
“Good timing. I’ll keep mine low 
too. No sense cluttering the orbits 
up here witli any more junk.” Care- 
fully McNary leaned back, leaned 
forward, and threw. The second 



cylinder followed the first, and Mc- 
Nary kept his footing. 

Without speaking Kaufman went 
through the preliminaries and 
launched his cylinder. Morgan and 
McNary watched it speed into the 
distance. “Shooting stars on Earth 
tonight,” said McNary. 

“Quick! I’m off.” It was Kauf- 
man. 

Morgan and McNary turned to 
see Kaufman floating several feet 
above the satellite, and slowly re- 
ceding. Morgan stepped toward 
him and scooped up the telephone 
wire that ran to Kaufman’s helmet. 
Kaufrnan swung an arm in a circle 
so that it became entangled in the 
wire. Morgan carefully drew the 
wire taut and checked Kaufman’s 
outward motion. Gently, so as not 
to snap the wire, he slowly reeled 
him in. McNary grasped Kaufman’s 
shoulders and turned him so that 
his feet louched the metal shell of 
the satellite. 

McNary chuckled and said, 
“Why didn’t you ride an oxygen 
cylinder down?” 

Kaufman grunted and said, “Oh, 
sure. I’ll leave that to the idiots in 
the movies; that’s the only place a 
man can ride a cylinder in space.” 
He turned to Morgan. “Thanks. 
Do as much for you some day.” 

“Hope you don’t have to,” Mor- 
gan answered. “Look, any throwing 
to be done, you better leave it to 
Mac and me. We can’t be fishing 
anyone back if things get hot.” 

“Right,” said Kaufman. “I’ll do 
what I can to fend ofT anything 
they throw at us.” lie sniffed. “Be 
simpler if we have a collision.” 

Morgan was staring to the left. 



36 



THEODORE L. THOMAS 




He lifted a hand and pointed. 
“That it?” 

The others squinted in that direc- 
tion. After a moment they saw the 
spot of light moving swiftly up and 
across the black backdrop of the 
naked sky. “Must be,” said Kauf- 
man. “Right time, right place. Must 
be.” 

Morgan promptly turned his back 
on the sun and closed his eyes; he 
would need his best vision shortly 
now, and he wanted his pupils di- 
lated as much as possible. “Make 
anything out yet?” he said. 

“No. Little brighter.” 

Morgan stood without moving. 
He could feel the heat on his back 
as his suit seized the radiant energf 
from the sun and converted it to 
heat. He grew warm at the back, 
yet his front remained cold. The 
sensation was familiar, and Morgan 
sought to place it. Yes, that was it 
— a fireplace. He felt as does a man 
who stands in a cold room with his 
back toward a roaring fire. One side 
toasted, the other side frigid. 
Funny, the homey sensations, even 
here. 

“Damn face plate.” It was Kauf- 
man. He had scraped the front of 
his helmet against die outside hatch 
a week ago. Since then the scratches 
distracted him every time he wore 
the helmet. 

Morgan waited^ and the exulta- 
tion seethed and bubbled and 
fumed. “Anything?” lie said. 

“It’s brighter,” said McNary. 
“But — wait a minute, I can make 
it out. They're outside, the three of 
them. I can just see them.” 

It was time. Morgan turned to 
face the approaching satellite. He 

SATELLITE PASSAGE 



raised a hand to shield his face 
plate from the sun and carefully 
opened his eyes. He shifted his 
hand into the proper position and 
studied the other satellite. 

It was like their own, even to the 
three men standing on it, except 
that the three were spaced further 
apart. 

“Any sign of a rifle or gun?” 
asked McNary. 

“Not that I see,” said Morgan. 
“They’re not close enough to tell.” 

He watched the other satellite 
grow larger and he tried to judge 
its course, but it was too far away. 
Although his eyes were on the satel- 
lite, his side vision noted the bright- 
lit Earth below and the stars be- 
yond. A small part of his mind was 
amused by his own stubborn ego- 
centricity. Knowing well that he 
was moving and moving fast, he 
still felt that he stood ' motionless 
while the rest of the universe re- 
volved around him. The great globe 
seemed to be majestically turning 
under his rooted feet. The harsh 
brilliances that were the stars 
seemed to sweep by overhead. And 
that oncoming satellite, it seemed 
not to move so much as merely 
swell in size as lie watched. 

One of the tiny figures on the 
other satellite shifted its position 
toward the others. Sensitive to the 
smallest detail, Morgan said, “He 
didn’t clear a line when he walked. 
No telephone. They’re on radio. See 
if we can find the frequency. Mac, 
take the low. Shorty, the medium. 
I’ll take the high.” 

Morgan reached to his helmet 
and began turning the channel se- 
(Continued on page 115) 

37 




THE 

NIGHT 

OF 

HOGGY 

DARN 



BY 

R. M . 
MCKENNA 




I' he talented author of “The 

a 

F ishdollar Affair” returns with 
another compelling story of 
a frontier world — grim New 
Cornwall of the Black Learn- 

ing. 



is 








Four still lived, their legs crudely hamstrung. . . . 

R ED-HAIRED Flinter Cole “That’s right, twice every stancl- 
sipped his black coffee and ard year,” said the cook. He was a 
looked around the chrome and placid, squinting man, pink in his 
white tile galley of Space Freighter crisp whites. “But like I said, no 
Gorbalsy in which he was riding girls, no drinks, nothing clown there 
down the last joint of a dogleg jour- but hard looks and a punch in the 
ney to the hermit planet of New nose for being curious. We mostly 
Cornwall. stay aboard, up in orbit. Them 

“Nothing’s been published about New Cornish are the biggest, mean- 
the planet lor the last five hundred cst men I ever did see, Doc.” 
years,” lie said in a nervous, jerky “I’m not a real doctor yet,” Cole 
voice. “You people on Gorbals at said, glancing down at the scholar 
least see the place, and I under- grays he was wearing. “If I don't 
stand you’re the only ship that do a good job on New Cornwall I 
does.” may never he. This is my Ph. D. 



39 



trial field assignment. I should be 
stuffing myself with data on the 
ecosystem so I can ask the right 
questions when I get there. But 
there’s nothing!” 

“What’s a pec aitch dee?” 

“That’s being a doctor. I’m an 
ecologist — that means I deal with 
everything alive, and the way it all 
works in with climate and geogra- 
phy. I can use any kind of data. I 
have only six months until Gorbals 
comes again to make my survey 
and report. If I fumble away my 
doctorate, and Tin twenty-three al- 
ready. ...” Cole knitted shaggy red 
eyebrows in worry. 

“Well hell, Doc, I can tell you 
things like, it’s got four moons and 
only one whopper of a continent 
and it’s low grav, and the forest 
there you won’t believe even when 
you see it — ” 

“I need to know about stomper s. 
Bidgrass Company wants Belconti 
U. to save them from extinction, 
but they didn’t say what the threat 
is. They sent travel directions, a 
visa and passage scrip for just one 
man. And I only had two days for 
packing and library research, be- 
fore I had to jump to Tristan in 
order to catch this ship. I’ve been 
running in the dark ever since. 
You’d think the Bidgrass people 
didn’t really care.” 

“Price of stomper egg what it is, 
f doubt that,” the cook said, 
scratching his fat jaw. “But for a 
fact, they’re shipping less these 
days. Must be some kind of trouble. 
[ never saw a stomper, but they say 
they’re big birds that live in the 
forest.” 

AO 



“You see? The few old journal 
articles I did find, said they were 
flightless bird -homologs that lived 
on the plains and preyed on the 
great herds of something called 
darv cattle.” 

“Nothing but forest and sea for 
thousands of miles around Bidgrass 
Station, Doc. Stompcrs are pure 
hell on big long legs, they say.” 
“There again! 1 read they were 
harmless to man.” 

“Tell you what, you talk to 
Daley, lie’s cargo officer and has 
to go clown with each tender trip. 
He’ll maybe know something can 
help you.” 

The cook turned away to inspect 
his ovens. Cole put down his cup 
and clamped a freckled hand over 
his chin, thinking. He thought 
about stomper eggs, New Cornwall’s 
sole export and apparently, for five 
hundred years, its one link with the 
other planets of Carina sector. 
Their reputedly indescribable flavor 
had endeared them to gourmets on 
a hundred planets. They were sym- 
bols of coaspicuous consumption 
for the ostentatious wealthy. No 
wonder most of the literature un- 
der the New Cornwall reference 
had turned out to be cookbooks. 

Orphaned and impecunious, a 
self-made scholar, Cole had never 
tasted stomper egg. 

The cook slammed an oven door 
on the fresh bread smell. 

“Just thought, Doc. I keep a can 
or two of stomper egg, squeeze it 
from cargo for when I got a pas- 
senger to feed. How’d you like a 
mess for chow tonight?” 

“Why not?” Cole said, grinning 
suddenly. “Anything may be data 

R. M. McKENNA 




lor an ecologist, especially if it’s 
good to cat” 

The stomper egg came to the of- 
ficers’ mess table as a heaped plat- 
ter of bite-sized golden spheres, 
deep-fried in bittra oil. Their deli- 
cate, porous texture hardly required 
chewing. Their flavor was like — 
cinnamon? Peppery sandalwood? 
Yes, yes, and yet unique. . . . 

Cole realized in confusion that 
he had eaten half the plattcrful and 
the other six men had not had any. 
He groped for a lost feeling — was 
it that he and the others formed a 
connected biomass and that he 
could eat for all of them? Ridicu- 
lous ! 

“I’m a pig.” he laughed weakly. 
“Here, Mr. Daley, have some.” 

Daley, a gingery, spry little man. 
said “By me” and slid the platter 
along. It rounded the table and re- 
turned to Cole untouched. 

“Fall to. Doc.” Daley said, grin- 
ning. 

Cole was already reaching . . . 
lying in his stateroom and he was 
the bunk cradling a taut, messianic 
body flaming with imageless 
dreams. He dreamed himself asleep 
and slept himself into shamed 
wakefulness needing coffee. 

It was ship-night. Cole walked 
through dimmed lights to the gal- 
ley and carried his cup of hot black 
coffee to main control, where he 
found Daley on watch, lounging 
against the gray enamel computer. 

“I feci like a fool,” Cole said. 

“You’re a martyr to science, Doc. 
Which reminds me, Cookie told me 
you got questions about Bidgrass 
Station ” 



“Well yes, about stompers. 
What’s wiping them out, what’s 
their habitat and life pattern, oh 
anything.” 

“I learned quick not to ask about 
stompers. I gather they’re twenty 
feet high or so and they’re penned 
up behind a stockade. I never saw 

35 

one. 

“Well dammit! I read they 
couldn’t be domesticated.” 

“They’re not. Bidgrass Station is 
in a clearing the New Cornish cut 
from sea to sea across a narrow 
neck of land. On the west is this 
stockade and beyond it is Lundy 
Peninsula, a good half-million 
square miles of the damndest forest 
over grew on any planet. That’s 
where the stompers are.” 

“How thickly settled is this Lund> 
Peninsula?” 

“Not a soul there, Doc. The set- 
tlement is around Car Truro on the. 
cast coast, twelve thousand miles 
east of Bidgrass. I never been there, 
but you can see from the air it isn’t 
much.” 

“How big a city is Bidgrass? Does 
it have a university?” 

Daley smiled again and shook his 
head. “They got fields and pastures, 
hut it’s more like a military camp 
than a town. I see barracks for the 
workers and egg hunters, hangars 
and shops, a big egg-processing 
plant and warehouses around ■' the 
landing field. I never get away from 
the field, but I’d guess four, five 
thousand people at Bidgrass.” 

Cole sighed and put down his 
cup on the log desk. 

“What is it they import, one half 
so precious as the stuff they sell?” 
Daley chuckled and rocked on 



THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



41 




his toes. “Drugs, chemicals, ma- 
chinery parts, hundreds of tons of 
Warburton energy capsules. Pistols, 
blasters, cases of flame charge, tanks 
of fire mist — you’d think they had a 
war on.” 

“That’s no help. I’ll make up for 
lost time when I get there. I’ll beat 
their ears off with questions.” 
Daley’s gnomish face grew seri- 
ous. “Watch what you ask and who 
you ask, Doc. They’re suspicious as 
hell and they hate strangers.” 
“They need my help. Besides. I'll 
deal only with scientists.” 

“Bidgrass isn’t much like a cam- 
pus. I don’t know, Doc, something’s 
wrong on that planet and I’m al- 
ways glad to lift out.” 

“Why didn’t you and the others 
cat any of that s tom per egg?*’ Cole 
asked abruptly. 

“Because the people at Bidgrass 
turn sick and want to slug you if 
you mention eating it. That’s rea- 
son enough for me.” 

Well, that was data too, Cole 
thought, heading back to his state- 
room. 

T WO DAYS later Daley piloted 
the cargo tender down in a 
three-lap braking spiral around 
New Cornwall. Cole sat beside him 
in the cramped control room, eyes 
fixed on the view panel. Once he 
had the bright and barren moon 
Cairdween at upper left, above a 
vastly curving sweep of sun-glinting 
ocean, and he caught his breath in 
wonder. 

“I know the feeling, Doc,” Daley 
said softly. “Like being a giant and 
jumping from world to world.” 



Clouds obscured much of the 
sprawling, multi-lobed single con- 
tinent. The sharpening of outline 
and hint of regularity Cole remem- 
bered noting on Tristan and his own 
planet of Belconti, the mark of 
man, was absent here. Yet New 
Cornwall, as a human settlement, 
was two hundred years older than 
Belconti. 

The forests stretched across the 
south and west, broken by uplands 
and rain shadows, as the old books 
said. He saw between cloud patches 
the glint of lakes and the crumpled 
leaf drainage pattern of the great 
northeastern plain but, oddly, the 
plain was darker in color dian the 
pinkish -yellow forest. He mentioned 
it to Daley. 

“It’s llowcrs and vines and moss 
makes it that color,” the little man 
said, busy with controls. “Whole 
world in that forest top — snakes, 
birds, jumping things big as horses. 
Doc, them trees are big” 

“Of course! I read about the 
epiphytal biota. And low gravity al- 
ways conduces to gigantism.” 

“There’s Lundy,” Daley grunted, 
porting. 

It looked like a grinning ovoid 
monster-head straining into the 
western ocean at the end of a 
threadlike neck. Across the neck 
Bidgrass Station slashed between 
parallel lines of forest edge like a 
collar. Cole watched it again on 
the landing approach, noting the 
half-mile of clearing between the 
great wall and the forest edge, the 
buildings and fields rectilinear in 
ordered clumps cast of the wall, 
and then the light aberration of the 
lender’s lift field blotted it out. 



42 



R. M. McKENNA 




‘‘Likely I won’t see you till next 
trip,” Daley said, taking leave. 
“Good luck, Doc.” 

Cole shuffled down the personnel 
ramp, grateful for the weight of his 
two bags ^ in the absurdly light 
gravity. Trucks and cargo lifts were 
coming across the white field from 
the silvery warehouses along its 
edge. Men also, shaggy-haired big 
men in loose blue garments, walk- 
ing oddly without the stride and 
drive of leg muscles. Their faces 
were uniformly grim and blank to 
Cole, standing there uncertainly. 
Then a ground car pulled up and a 
tall old man in the same rough 
clothing got out and walked direct- 
ly toward him. He hqd white hair, 
bushy white eyebrows over deep- 
set gray eyes, and a commanding 
beak of a nose. 

“Who might you be?” he de- 
manded. 

“I’m Flinter Cole, from Belconti 
University. Someone here is expect- 
ing me.” 

The old man squinted in thought 
and bit his lower lip. Finally he 
said, “The biologist, hey? Didn’t 
expect you until next Gorbals. 
Didn’t* think you could make the 
connections for this one.” 

“It left me no time at all to study 
up in. But when species extinction 
is the issue, time is important. And 
I’m an ecologist.” 

“Well,” the old man said. “Well. 
I’m Garth Bidgrass.” 

He shook Cole’s hand, a power- 
ful grip quickly released. 

“Hawkins there in the car will 
take you to the manor house and 
get you settled. I’ll phone ahead. 
I’ll be tied up checking cargo for a 

THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



day or two, I expect. You just rest 
up awhile.” 

He spoke to the driver in what 
sounded like Old English, then 
moved rapidly across the field to- 
ward the warehouses in the same 
strange walk as the other men. As 
far as Cole could see, he did not 
bend his knees at all. 

Hawkins, also old but frail and 
stooped, took Cole’s bags to the car. 
When the ecologist tried to follow 
him he almost fell headlong, then 
managed a stiff-legged shuffle. Mo- 
mentarily he longed for the Earth- 
normal gravity of Belconti and the 
ship. 

They drove past unfenced fields 
green with vegetable and cereal 
crops, and fenced pastures holding 
beef and dairy cattle of the old 
Earth breeds. It was a typical hu- 
man ecosystem. Then they passed a 
group of field workers, and surprise 
jolted the ecologist. They were huge 
— eight or nine feet tall, both men 
and women, all with long hair and 
some of them naked. They did not 
look up. 

Cole looked at Hawkins. The 
old man glared at him from red- 
rimmed eyes and chattered some- 
thing in archaic English. He 
speeded up, losing the giants be- 
hind a hedge, and the manor house 
with the palisade behind it loomed 
ahead. 

The great fence dwarfed the 
house. Single baulks of grassy brown 
timber ten feet on a side soared two 
hundred feet into the air, intricate- 
ly braced and stayed. High above, 
a flyer drifted as if on sentry duty. 
Half a mile beyond, dwarfing the 
fence in its turn, arose the thou- 

43 




sand-foot black escarpment of the 
forest edge. 

The manor house huddled in a 
walled garden with armed guards 
at the gate. It was two-storied and 
sprawling, with a flat-roofed watch 
tower at the southeast corner, and 
made of the same glassy brown tim- 
ber. Hawkins stopped the car by the 
pillared veranda where a lumpy, 
gray, nondescript woman waited. 
Cole got out, awkwardly careful in 
the light gravity. 

The woman would not meet his 
glance. “I’m Flada Vignoli, Mr. 
Bidgrass’ s niece and housekeeper,” 
she said in a dead voice. C T11 show 
you your rooms.” She turned away 
before Cole could respond. 

“Let me carry the bags, I need 
to,” he said to Hawkins, laughing 
uncertainly. The old man hoisted 
his skinny shoulders and spat. 

The rooms were on the second 
floor, comfortable but archaic in 
style. The gray woman told him 
that Hawkins would bring his 
meals, that Garth Bidgrass would 
see him in a few days to make 
plans, and that Mr. Bidgrass 
thought he should not go about un- 
escorted until he knew more about 
local conditions. 

Cole nodded. “HI want to con- 
fer with your leading biologists, 
Mrs. Vignoli, as soon as I can. For 
today, can you get me a copy of 
your most recent biotic survey?” 

“Ain’t any biologists, ain’t any 
surveys,” she said, standing in the 
half-closed door. 

“Well, any recent book about 
stampers or your general zoology. 
It’s important that I start at once.” 

The face under the scraggly gray 

44 



hair went blanker still. “You’ll have 
to talk to Mr. Bidgrass.” She closed 
the door. 

Cole unpacked, bathed, dressed 
again and explored his three rooms. 
Like a museum, he thought. He 
looked out his west windows at the 
palisade and forest edge. Then he 
decided to go downstairs, and found 
his door was locked. 

The shock was more fear than 
indignation, he realized, wondering 
at himself. He paced his sitting 
room, thinking about his scholarly 
status and the wealth and power 
of Belconti, until he had the indig- 
nation flaming. Then a knock came 
at the door and it opened to reveal 
old Hawkins with a wheeled food 
tray. 

‘What do you mean, locking me 
in?” Cole asked hotly. 

lie pushed past the food tray into 
the hall. Hawkins danced and 
made shooing motions with his 
hands, chattering shrilly in the ver- 
nacular. Cole walked to the railing 
around the stairwell and looked 
down. At the foot of the stair a 
giant figure, man or woman he 
could not say, sat and busied itself 
with something in its lap. 

Cole went back into his room. 
The food was boiled beef, potatoes 
and beets, plain but plentiful, plus 
bread and coffee. He ate heartily 
and looked out his windows again 
to see night coming on. Finally he 
tried the door and it was not 
locked. He shrugged, pushed the 
food tray into the hall and closed 
the door again. Then he shot the 
inside bolt. 

In bed, he finally dropped off in- 
to a restless, disturbed sleep. 

R. M. McKENNA 




E MBOLDENED by morning and 
a hearty tray breakfast. Cole 
explored. He was in a two-floor 
wing, and the doors into the main 
house were locked. Through them 
he heard voices and domestic clat- 
ter. Unlocked across the second- 
floor hall was another suite of 
rooms like his own. Downstairs was 
still another suite and along the 
south side a library. The door into 
the garden was locked. 

My kingdom, Cole thought wry- 
ly. Prisoner of state! 

He explored the library. Tristan- 
ian books, historical romances for 
the most part, none less than three 
hundred years old. No periodicals, 
nothing of New Cornwall publica- 
tion. He drifted from window to 
window looking out at the formal 
garden of flower beds, hedges and 
white sand paths. Then he saw the 
oitI 

O 111 ' 

She knelt in a sleeveless gray 
dress trimming a hedge. Her tanned 
and rounded arms had dimpled 
elbows, he noted. She turned sud- 
denly and he saw, framed by red- 
dish-brown curls, her oval face with 
small nose and firm chin. The face 
was unsuitably grave and the eyes 
wide. 

She was not staring at his win- 
dow, Cole decided after a qualm, 
but listening. Then she rose, picked 
up her basket of trimmings and 
glided around the comer of the 
house. Before he could pursue her 
plump vision to another window, 
a man appeared. 

He looked taller than Cole and 
was built massively as a stone. 
Straight black hair fell to his shoul- 
ders, cut square across his forehead 

THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



and bound by a white fillet. Under 
the black bar of eyebrow the heavy 
face held itself in grim, unsmiling 
lines. He moved with that odd, un- 
striding New Cornish walk that 
suggested tremendous power held 
in leash. 

Cole crossed the hall and watched 
the blue-clad form enter a door in 
the wing opposite. The girl was no- 
where. Again Cole felt a twinge of 
fear, and boiled up anger to mask 
it. 

Inside looking out, he thought. 
Peeping like an ecologist in a bird 
blind! 

When Hawkins brought lunch 
Cole raged at him and demanded 
to see Garth Bidgrass. The old man 
chattered incomprehensibly and 
danced like a fighting cock. 
Thwarted, the ecologist ate moodily 
and went down to the library. The 
garden was empty and he decided 
on impulse to open a window. A 
way of retreat, but from what and 
to where, he wondered as he worked 
at the fastenings. Just as he got it 
free, a woman stooped through the 
library door. She was at least seven 
feet tall. 

Cole stood erect and held his 
breath. Not looking at him, the 
woman dropped to her knees and 
began dusting the natural wood 
half-panelling that encircled the 
room between bookcases. She had 
long blonde hair and a mild, vacant 
face; she wore a shapeless blue 
dress. 

“Hello/’ Cole said. 

She paid no attention. 

“Hello!” he said more sharply. 
“Do you speak Galactic English?” 

She looked at him out of empty 

45 




blue eyes and went back to her 
work. Pie went past her gingerly 
and up to his room. There he wrote 
a note to Garth Bidgrass, paced 
and fanned his indignation, tore up 
the note and wrote a stronger one. 
When Hawkins brought his dinner, 
Cole beat down his chattering ob- 
jections and stuffed the note into 
the old man’s coat pocket. 

“See that Bidgrass gets it at once! 
Do you hear, at once!” he shouted. 

After nightfall, nervous and 
wakeful, Cole looked out on the 
garden by the pale light of two 
moons. He saw the girl, wearing 
the same dress, come out of the op- 
posite wing, and decided on im- 
pulse to intercept her. 

As he climbed through the li- 
brary window he said to himself, 
“Anything may be data to an ecolo- 
gist, especially if it’s pretty to look 
at.” 

He met her full face at the house 
corner and her hands flew up, fend- 
ing. She turned and he said, “Please 
don’t run away from me. I want to 
talk to you.” 

She turned back with eyes wide 
and troubled, in what nature had 
meant to be a merry, careless face. 

“Do you know who I am?” he 
asked. 

She nodded. “Uncle Garth says 
I’m not to talk to you.” It was a 
little girl’s voice, tremulous. 

“Why? What am I, some kind of 
monster?” 

“N-no. You’re an outworlder, 
from a great, wealthy planet.” 

“Belconti is a very ordinary 
planet. What’s your name?” 

“I’m Pia — Pia Vignoli.” The 



voice took on more assurance, but 
the plump body stayed poised for 
flight. 

“Well I’m Flinter Cole, and I 
have a job to do on this planet. It’s 
terribly important that I get 
started. Will you help me?” 

“How can I, Mr. Cole? I’m no- 
body. I don’t know anything.” She 
moved away, and he followed, awk- 
wardly. 

“Girls know all sorts of things 
that would interest an ecologist,” 
he protested. “Tell me all you know 
about stompers.” 

“Oh no! I mustn’t talk about 
stompers.” 

“Well talk about nothing then, 
like girls do,” he said impatiently. 
“What’s the name of that moon?” 
He pointed overhead. 

Tension left her and she smiled a 
little. “Morwcnna,” she said. “That 
one jusL setting into Lundy Forest 
is Armis. You can tell Annis by her 
bluish shadows that are never the 
same.” 

“Good girl! How about the other 
two, the ones that aren’t up?” 

“One’s Cairdween and the other, 
the red one — oh, I daren’t talk 
about moons either.” 

“Not even moons? Really, Miss 
Vignoli — ” 

“Let’s not talk at all. I’ll show 
you how to walk, you do look so 
funny all spraddled and scraping 
your feet. I was born off-planet 
and I had to learn it myself.” 

She showed him the light down- 
flex of the foot that threw the body 
more forward than up, and he 
learned to wait out the strange 
micropause before his weight set- 
tled on the other foot. Wilh a little 



46 



R. M. McKENNA 




practice he got it, walking up and 
down the moonlit path beside her 
in an effortless toe -dance. Then he 
learned to turn corners and to 
jump. 

“Pia,” he said once. “Pia. I like 
the sound, but it doesn’t suit this 
rough planet.” 

“I was born on Tristan,” she 
murmured. “Please don’t ask — ” 

“i won’t. But no reason why I 
can’t talk. May I call you Pia?” 

He described Belconti and the 
university, and his doctorate, at 
stake in this field assignment. Sud- 
denly she stopped short and pointed 
to where a red moon lifted above 
the dark cliff of the eastern forest. 

“It’s late,” she said. “There 
comes Hoggy Darn. Good night, 
Mr. Cole.” 

She danced away faster than he 
could follow. He crawle3 back 
through his window in the reddish 
moonlight. 

N EXT afternoon Cole faced 
Garth Bidgrass in the library. 
The old man sat with folded arms, 
craggy face impassive. Cole, stand- 
ing, leaned his weight on his hands 
and thrust his sharp face across the 
table. His freckles stood out against 
his angry pallor, and sunlight from 
the end window blazed in his red 
hair. 

“Let me sum up,” he said, thin- 
lipped. “For obscure reasons I must 
be essentially a prisoner. All right. 
You have no education here, no 
biologists of any kind. All right. 
Now here is what they expect of 
me on Belconti: to rough out the 
planetary ecosystem, set up a func- 

THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



tional profile series for the stomper 
and its interacting species, make 
energy flow charts and outline the 
problem. If my report is incorrect 
or incomplete, Belconti won’t send 
the right task group of specialists. 
Then you spend your money for 
nothing and I lose my doctorate. I 
must have skilled helpers, a clerical 
staff, masses of data!” 

“You’ve said all that before,” 
Bidgrass said calmly. “I told you, I 
can provide none of that.” 

“Then it’s hopeless! Why did 
you ever send for an ecologist?” 

“I sent for help. Belconti sent 
the ecologist.” * 

“Help me to help you, then. You 
must try to understand, Mr. Bid- 
grass, science can’t operate in a 
vacuum. I can’t work up a total 
planetary biology. I must start with 
that data.” 

“Do what you can for us,” Bid- 
grass said. “They won’t blame you 
on Belconti when they know and 
we won’t blame you here if it 
doesn’t help.” * 

Cole sat down, shaking his head. 
“But Belconti won’t count it as a 
field job, not in ecology. You will 
not understand my position. Let 
me put it this way: suppose some- 
one gave you a hatchet and told 
you, only one 'man, to cut down 
Lundy Forest?” 

“I could start,” the old man said. 
His eyes blazed and he smiled grim- 
ly. “I’d leave my mark on one tree.” 
Colt felt suddenly foolish and 
humbled. 

“All right,” he said. “I’ll do what 
I can. What do you think is wiping 
out the stompers?” 

“I know what. A parasite bird 



47 




that lays its eggs on stomper eggs. 
Its young hatch first and eat the 
big egg. The people call them 
piskies.” 

‘Til need to work out its life 
cycle, look for weak points and nat- 
ural enemies. Who knows a lot 
about these piskies?” 

“I know as much as anybody, 
and I 5 ve never seen a grown one. 
We believe they stay in the deep 
forest. But there are always three to 
each stomper egg and they’re vi- 
cious. Go for a man’s eyes or jug- 
ular. Egg hunters kill dozens every 
day.” 

‘Til want dozens, alive if possi- 
ble, and a lab. Can you do that 
much?” 

“Yes. You can use Dr. Rudall’s 
lab at the hospital.” Bidgrass stood 
up and looked at his watch. “The 
egg harvest should start coming in 
soon down at the plant and then.* 
may be a dead pisky. Come along 
and see.” 

As Hawkins guided the car past a 
group of the giant field workers, 
Cole felt Bidgrass’ eyes on him. He 
turned, and the old man said slow- 
ly, “Stick to piskies, Mr. Cole. We’ll 
all be happier.” 

“Anything may be data to an 
ecologist, especially if he overlooks 
it,” Cole murmured stubbornly. 

Hawkins cackled something 
about “Hoggy Dam itha hoose” 
and speeded up. 

In the cavernous, machinery- 
lined plant Cole met the manager. 
He was the same powerful, long- 
haired man Cole had seen in the 
garden. “Morgan.” Bidgrass intro- 
duced him with the one name, add- 



ing, “He doesn’t use Galactic Eng- 
lish.” 

Morgan bent his head slightly, 
unsmiling, ignoring Cole’s offered 
hand. His wide-set eyes were so lus- 
trously black that they seemed to 
have no pupils, and under the hos- 
tile stare Cole flushed angrily. They 
walked through the plant, Morgan 
talking to Bidgrass in the vernac- 
ular. His voice was deep and reso- 
nant, organ-like. 

Bidgrass explained to Cole how 
stomper egg was vac-frozen under 
biostat and sealed in plastic for ex- 
port. He pointed out a piece of 
shell, half an inch thick and highly 
translucent. From its radius of cur- 
vature Cole realized that stomper 
eggs were much larger than he had 
pictured them. Then someone 
shouted and Bidgrass said a flyer 
was coming in. They went out on 
the loading dock. 

The flyer alongside carried six 
men forward of the cargo space 
and had four heavy blasters 
mounted almost like a warcraft. As 
the dock crew unloaded two eggs 
into dollies, other flyers were skit- 
tering in, further along the dock. 
Bidgrass pointed out to Cole on 
one huge four by three-foot egg the 
bases of broken parasite eggs ce- 
mented to its shell. Through a hole 
made by piskies, the ecologist noted 
that the substance of the large egg 
was a stiff gel. Morgan flashed a 
strong pocket lamp on the shell and 
growled something. 

“There may be a pisky hiding in- 
side,” Bidgrass said. “You are lucky, 
Mr. Cole.” 

Morgan stepped inside and re- 
turned almost at once wearing gog- 



48 



R. M. McKENNA 




gles and heavy gloves, and carrying 
a small power sa\>* He used the 
light again, traced an eight-inch 
square with his finger, and sawed it 
out. The others, all but Cole, stood 
back. Morgan pulled away the 
piece and something black flew up, 
incredibly swift, with a shrill, 
keening sound. 

Cole looked after it and Morgan 
struck him heavily in the face, 
knocking him to hands and knees. 
Feet stamped and scraped around 
him and Cole saw his own blood 
dripping on the dock. He stood up 
dazed and angry. 

“Morgan saved your eye,” Bid- 
grass told him, “but the pisky took 
a nasty gouge at your cheekbone. 
I’ll have Hawkins drive you to the 
hospital — you wanted to meet tJr. 
Rudall anyway." 

Cole examined the crushed pisky 
on the way to the hospital. Big as 
his fist, with a tripartite beak, it was 
no true bird. The wings were flaps 
of black skin that still wrinkled 
and folded flexibly with residual 
life. It had nine Iocs on each foot 
and seemed covered with fine scales. 

Dr. Rudall treated Cole’s cheek 
in a surprisingly large and well ap- 
pointed dressing room. He was a 
gray, defeated -looking man and 
told Cole in an apologetic voice 
that he had taken medical training 
on Planet Tristan many years ago 
. . . out of touch now. His small lab 
looked hopelessly archaic, but he 
promised to biostat the dead pisky 
until Cole could get back to it. 

Hawkins was not with the ground 
car. Cole drove back to the plant 
without him. He wanted another 
look at the mode of adhesion of 



pisky egg on stomper egg. He drove 
to the further end of the plant and 
mounted the dock from outside, to 
freeze in surprise. Twenty feet 
away, the dock crew was unloading 
a giant. 

He was naked, strapped limply to 
a plank, and his face was bloody. 
Half his reddish hair and heard 
was singed away. Then a hand hit 
Cole’s shoulder and spun him 
around. It was Morgan. 

“Clear out of here, you!” the big 
man said in fluent, if plain, Galactic 
English. “Don’t you ever co»e here 
without Garth Bidgrass brings 
you!” He seemed hardly to move 
his lips, but the voice rumbled like 
thunder. 

“Well,” thought Cole, driving 
back after Hawkins, “datums are 
data, if they bite off your head.” 

46*piOR YOUR own safety, Mr. 

-T Cole, you must not again 
leave the company of either Haw- 
kins or Dr. Rudall when you are 
away from the house,” Bidgrass 
told Cole the next morning. “The 
people have strange beliefs that 
would seem sheer nonsense to you, 
but their impulsive acts, if you pro- 
voke them, will be unpleasantly 
real.” 

“If I knew their beliefs I might 
know how to behave.” 

“It is your very presence that is 
provoking. If you were made of 
salt you would have to stay out of 
the rain. Here you ait; an out- 
worlder and you must stay within 
certain limits. It’s like that.” 

“All right,” Cole said glumly. 

He worked all day at the hospital 



THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



49 




dissecting the pisky, but found no 
parasites. He noted interesting 
points of anatomy. The three-part 
beak of silicified horn was razor 
sharp and designed to exert a dou- 
ble shearing stress. The eye was 
triune and of fixed focus; the three 
eyeballs lay in a narrow isosceles 
triangle pattern, base down, be- 
hind a common triangular conjunc- 
tiva with incurved sides and narrow 
base. The wings were elastic and 
stiffened with a fan of nine multi- 
jointed bones that probably gave 
them grasping and manipulating 
power in the living organism. None 
of it suggested the limit factor he 
sought. 

Dr. Rudall helped him make cul- 
tures in a sterile broth derived from 
the pisky’ s own tissues. In the 
evening a worker from the plant 
brought eleven dead piskies and 
Cole put them in biostat. He rode 
home with Hawkins to his solitary 
dinner feeling he had made a start. 

Day followed day. Cole remained 
isolated in his wing, coming and 
going through his back door into 
the garden. He became used to the 
mute giant domestics who swept 
and cleaned. Now and then he ex- 
changed a few words with the sad 
Mrs. Vignoli, Pia’s mother, he 
learned, or with old Bidgrass, in 
chance meetings. He watched Pia 
through his windows sometimes and 
knew she fled when he came out. 
There was something incongruous 
in the timid wariness with which 
her plump figure and should-be- 
merry face confronted the world. 

Once he caught her and held her 
wrist. “Why do you run away from 
me, Pia?” 



She pulled away gently. ‘Til get 
you in trouble, Mr. Cole. They 
don’t trust me either. My father was 
a Tristanian.” 

“Who are they?” 

“Just they. Morgan, all of them.” 
“If we’re both outworld, we 
should stick together. I’m the lone- 
liest man on this planet, Pia.” 

“I know the feeling,” she said, 
looking down. 

He patted her curls. “Let’s be 
friends then, and you help me. 
Where do these giant people come 
from?” 

Her head jerked up angrily. 
“That has nothing to do with your 
work! I’m inworld too, Mr. Cole. 
My mother is of the old stock.” 
Cole let her go in silence. 

He began working evenings in 
the lab, losing himself in work. Few 
of the blue-clad men and women 
he encountered would look at him. 
but he sensed their hostile glances 
on the back of his neck. He felt 
islanded in a sea of dull hatred. 
Only Dr. Rudall was vaguely 
friendly. 

Cole found no parasites in hun- 
dreds of dissected piskies, but his 
cultures were frequently contami- 
nated by a fungus that formed dark 
red, globular fruiting bodies. When 
he turned to cytology he found that 
what he had supposed to be an in- 
credibly complex autonomic nerv- 
ous system was instead a fungal 
mycelium, so fine as to be visible 
only in phase contrast. He experi- 
mented with staining techniques 
and verified it in a dozen speci- 
mens, then danced the surprised 
Dr. Rudall around ihc lab. 

“I’ve done it! One man against 



50 



R. M. McKENNA 




a planet!” he chortled. “We’ll cul- 
ture it, then work up mutant strains 
of increasing virulence — oh for a 
Belconti geno-mycologist now!” 

“It’s not pathogenic, I’m afraid,” 
Dr. Rudall said. “I . . . ah . . . read 
once, that idea was tried centuries 
ago ... all the native fauna have 
fungal symbiotes . . . protect them 
against all known pathogenic 
microbiota . . . should have men- 
tioned it, I suppose. . . .” 

“Yes, you should have told me! 
My God, there go half the weapons 
of applied ecology over the moon 
. . . my time wasted . . . why didn’t 
you tell me?” The ecologist’s sharp 
face flushed red as his hair with 
frustrated anger. 

“You didn’t ask . . . hardly know 
what ecology means . . . didn’t real- 
ize it was important . . .” the old 
doctor stammered. 

“Everythin" is important to an 
ecologist, especially what people 
won’t tell him!” Cole stormed. 

He tried to stamp out of the lab, 
and progressed in a ludicrous 
bouncing that enraged him even 
more. He shouted for Hawkins and 
went home early. 

In his rooms he brooded on his 
wrongs for an hour, then went 
downstairs and thundered on the 
locked door into the main house, 
shouting Garth Bidgrass’ name. 
The sounds beyond hushed. Then 
Garth Bidgrass opened the door, 
looking stern and angry. 

“Come into the library, Mr. 
Cole,” he said. “Try to control 
yourself.” 

In the library Cole poured out 
his story while Bidgrass, standing 

THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



with right elbow resting atop a 
bookcase, listened gravely. 

“You must understand,” Cole fin- 
ished, “to save the stompers wc 
must cut down the piskies. Crudely 
put, the most common method is to 
find a disease or a parasite that 
affects them, and breed more po- 
tent strains of it. But that won’t 
work on piskies, and I could have 
and should have known that to be- 
gin with.” * 

“Then you must give up?” 

“No! Something must prey on 
them or their eggs in their native 
habitat, a macrobiotic limit fac- 
tor I can use. I must learn the adult 
pisky’s diet; if its range is narrow 
enough that cafi be made a limit 
factor.” 

the old man frowned. “How 
would you learn all this?” 

“Field study. I want at least 
twenty intelligent men and a per- 
manent camp somewhere in Lundy 
Forest.” 

Bidgrass folded his arms and 
shook his head. “Can’t spare the 
men. And it’s too dangerous — 
stompers would attack you day and 
night. I’ve had over two hundred 
egg hunters killed this year, and 
they’re trained men in teams.” 

“Let me go out with a team then, 
use my own two eyes.” 

“Men wouldn’t have you. I told 
you, they’re superstitious about out- 
worlders.” 

“Then it’s failure! Your money 
and my doctorate go down the 
drain.” 

“You’re young, you’ll get your 
doctorate another place,” the old 
man said. “You’ve tried hard, and 
I’ll tell Belconti that.” His voice 

51 




was placating, but Cole thought he 
saw a wary glint in the hard gray 
eyes. 

Cole shrugged. “I suppose I’ll 
settle in and wait for Gorbals. But 
I’ve had pleasanter vacations.” 

He turned his back and scanned 
the shelves ostentatiously for a 
book. Bidgrass left the room quiet- 

!y- 

It was a boring evening. Pia was 
not in the garden. Cole looked at 
the barrier and the incredible cliff 
of Lundy Forest. He would like to 
get into that forest, just once. Hun- 
dred and fifty days before Gorbals 
. . . why had they ever sent for him? 
•They seemed to be conspiring to 
cheat him of his doctorate. They 
had, too. . . . Finally he slept. 

E WOKE to a distant siren 
wail and doors slamming and 
feet scraping in the main house. 
Dressing in haste, he noted a red 
glow in the sky to southward and 
heard a booming noise. In the hall 
outside his room he met Pia, face 
white and eyes enormous. 

“Stamper attack!” she cried. 
“Come quickly, you must hide in 
the basement with us!” 

He followed her into the main 
house and downstairs to where Mrs. 
Vignoli was herding a crowd of the 
giant domestics down a doored 
staircase. The giant women were 
tossing their heads nervously. Sev- 
eral were naked and one was tear- 
ing off her dress. Cole drew back. 

‘Tm an ecologist, I want to see,” 
he said. “Stampers are data.” 

He pushed her gently toward the 
women and walked out on the front 

52 



veranda. From southward came an 
incredibly rich and powerful chord 
of organ music, booming and swell- 
ing, impossibly sustained. Old 
Hawkins danced in the driveway 
in grotesque pointed leaps, shriek- 
ing “Hoosa maida! lloosa maida!” 
Overhead the moons Cairdween, 
Morwenna and Annis of the blue 
shadows were arranged in a perfect 
isosceles triangle, naimw base par- 
allel to the horizon. It stirred 
something in Cole, but the swelling 
music unhinged his thought. With 
a twinge of panic he turned, to find 
Pia at his elbow. 

“They’re after me, after us,” she 
cried against the music. 

“I must see. You go find shelter, 
Pia.” 

“With you I feel less alone now,” 
she said. “One can’t really hide, 
anyway. Come to the watch tower 
and you'll see.” 

He followed her through the 
house and up two flights lo the roof 
of the tower on the southeast cor- 
ner. As they stepped iuLo the night 
air, the great organ sound en- 
wrapped them, and Cole saw the 
southern sky ablaze, with flyers 
swooping and black moles hurtling 
through the glare. Interwoven pen- 
cils of ion-flame flickered in the 
verging darkness and the ripping 
sound of heavy blasters came faint- 
ly through the music. 

A hundred-yard section of the 
barrier was down in flames, and the 
great, bobbing, leggy shapes of 
stampers came bounding through 
it while others glided down from 
the top. Flyers swarmed like angry 
bees around the top of the break, 
firing mounted blasters and tearing 




R. M. McKENNA 




away great masses of wood. The 
powerful chord of music swelled 
unendurably in volume and exult- 
ant richness until Cole cried out 
and shook the girl. 

“It plucks at my backbone and 
I can’t think! Pia, Pia, what is that 
music ?’ 5 

“It’s the stompers singing / 5 she 
shouted back. 

He shook his head. Bidgrass Sta- 
tion seethed, lights everywhere, 
roads crowded with trucks. Around 
the base of the breakthrough a de- 
fense perimeter flared with the 
blue-violet of blasters and the angry 
red of flame guns. As Cole watched 
it was overrun and darkened in 
place after place, only to reform 
further out as reserves came into 
action. Expanding jerkily, pushed 
this way and that, die flaming pe- 
riphery looked like a fire-mernbrane 
stressed past endurance by some 
savage contained thing. With a 
surge of emotion Cole realized it 
was men down there, with their 
guns and their puny muscles and 
their fragile lives against two- 
legged, boat-shaped monsters twen- 
ty feet high. 

“Sheer power of biomass / 5 he 
thought. “Even their shot-down 
bodies are missiles, to crush and 
break . 55 A sudden eddy in the flam- 
ing defense line brought it to with- 
in half a mile of the house. Cole 
could sec men die against the glare, 
in the great music. 

The girl pressed close to him and 
whimpered, “Oh, start the fire mist! 
Morwenna pity them!” Cole put 
his arm tightly- around her. 

A truck convoy pulled up by the 
manor house and soldiers were 

THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



everywhere, moving quickly and 
surely. A group hauled a squat, 
vertical cylinder on wheels crash- 
ing through the ornamental shrub- 
bery. Violet glowing metal vailing 
wound about it in a double helix. 

“It’s a Corbin powercaster / 5 Pia 
shouted into Cole’s ear. “It broad- 
casts power to the portable blasters 
so the men don’t heed to carry pack 
charges or lose time changing 
them . 55 

Cole looked at the soldiers. The 
same big men he saw every d^y, the 
same closed and hostile faces, but 
now a wild and savage joy shone 
in them. This was their human 
meaning to themselves, their justi- 
fication. The red boundary roared 
down on them, they would be dying 
in a few minutes, but they were 
braced and fiercely ready. 

The music swelled impossibly 
loud and Cole knew that he too was 
going to die with them, despised 
outworlder that he was. He hugged 
the girl fiercely and tried to kiss her. 

“Let me in your world, Pia!” he 
cried. 

She pulled away. “Look! The fire 
mist! Oh thank you, good Mor- 
wenna T 5 

He saw it, a rose pink paled by 
nearer flame, washing lazily against 
the black clifT edge of Lundy For- 
est. It grew, boiling up over the 
barrier in places, spilling through 
the gap, and the great, agonizing 
chord of music muted and dwin- 
dled. The flame-perimeter began 
shrinking and still the fire mist 
grew, staining the night sky north 
and south beyond eyc-rcach. The 
song became a mournful wailing 
and the soldiers in the garden 

*33 




moved forward for the mopping up. 

“Pia, Fve got to go down there. 
I’ve got to see a stomper close up.” 
She was trembling and crying 
with reaction. “I think they’ll be 
Loo busy to mind,” she said. “But 
don’t go too far in . . . Flinter.” 

He ran down the stairs and 
through the unguarded gate toward 
the fought-over area. Wounded 
men were being helped or carried 
past him, but no one noticed him. 
He found a stomper, blaster-torn 
but not yet dead, and stopped to 
watch the four-foot tripart beak 
snap feebly and the dark wings 
writhe and clutch. The paired ver- 
tical eyelid folds rolled apart later- 
ally to reveal three eyes under a 
single triangular conjunctiva, lam- 
bent in the flame-shot darkness. 
Soldiers passed unheeding while 
Cole stood and wondered. Then a 
hand jerked violently at his arm. It 
was Morgan. 

Morgan wordlessly marched him 
off to a knot of men nearer the 
mopping up line and pushed him 
before Garth Bidgrass. Sweat 
dripped from flaring eyebrows down 
the grim old face, and over a blis- 
tered right cheek. A heavy blaster 
hung from the old man’s body har- 
ness. 

“Well, Mr. Cole, is this data?” 
he asked dourly. “Have you come 
out to save stompers?” 

“I wish I could have saved men, 
Mr. Bidgrass. I wanted to help,” 
Cole said. 

“Another like this and you may 
have to,” Bidgrass said, less sharp- 
ly. “It was close work, lad.” 

“I can help Dr. Rudall. You must 
have many wounded.” 

54 



“Good, good,” the old man said 
approvingly. “The men will take 
that kindly and so will I.” 

“One favor,” Cole said. “Will 
you have your men save half a doz- 
en living stompers for me? I have 
another idea.” 

“Well, I don’t know,” Bidgrass 
said. “The men won’t like it . . . 
but a few days, maybe . . . yes, I’ll 
save you some.” 

“Thank you, sir.” Cole turned 
away, catching a thick scowl from 
Morgan. Overhead the three moons 
were strung in a ragged line across 
the sky, and Hoggy Darn was rising. 

OLE WORKED around the 
clock at the hospital, sterilizing 
instruments and helping Dr. Rudall 
with dressings. He was surprised to 
see other doctors, many nurses and 
numerous biofield projectors as 
modern as any on Bclconti. Some 
of the wounded wen* women. All 
of them, wounded and unwounded, 
seemed in a shared mood of exalta- 
tion. He caught glimpses of Pia, 
working too. She seemed less poised 
for flight, tired but happy, and she 
smiled at him. 

After three days Cole saw his 
stompers in a stone- floored pen at 
the slaughter house. Earth breed 
cattle lowed in adjacent pens. Four 
stompers still lived, their bodies 
blaster torn and their legs crudely 
hamstrung so they could not stand. 
They lay with heads together and 
the sun glinted on the blue-black, 
iridescent scales covering the domed 
heads and long necks. 

Three shock-headed butchers 
stood by, assigned to help him. 

R. M. McKENNA 





Their distaste for Cole and the job 
was so evident that he burned 
through the gross dissection of the 
two dead stornpers at one end of 
the same pen. Alter an hour he 
thought to ask, as best he could, 
whether the living stompers were 
being given food and water. When 
one man understood, black hatred 
crossed his lace and he spat on 
Cole's shoe. The ecologist flushed, 
then shrugged and got on with the 

j°b. 

It brought him jarring surprises 
culminating in a tentative conclu- 
sion late on the second day. Then 
the situation began to fall apart. 
Working alone for the moment, 
Cole opened the stomach of the sec- 
ond stomper and found in it half- 
digested parts of a human body. 
Skull and humerus size told him 
it was one of the giants. 

First pulling a flap of mesen- 
tery over the stomach incision, Cole 
went into the office and phoned 
Dr. Rudall to come at once. Com- 
ing out, he heard angry shouts and 
saw two of his helpers running to 
join the third, who stood pointing 
into the carcass. Then all three 
seized axes, ran across the pen and 
began hacking at the necks of the 
living stompers. 

The great creatures boomed and 
writhed, clacking their beaks and 
half rising on thecir wings, unable 
to defend themselves. The butchers 
howled curses, and the stompers 
broke into a mournful wailing har- 
monized with flesh-creeping sub- 
sonics. Cole shouted and pleaded, 
finally wrested an axe from one and 
mounted guard over the last living 
stomper. He stood embattled, fac- 

THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



ing a growing crowd of butchers 
from the 'plant, when Dr. Rudall 
arrived. 

“Dr. Rudall, explain to these 
maniacs why I must keep this 
stomper alive!” he cried angrily. 

“I’m sorry, Mr. Cole, they will 
kill it in spite of you.” 

“But Garth Bidgrass ordered — 55 

“In spite of him. There are fac- 
tors you don’t understand, Mr. 
Cole. You arc yourself in great dan- 
ger.” The old doctor’s hands trem- 
bled. 

Cole thought rcfpidly. “All right, 
will they wait a day? I want tissue 
explants fc^ a reason I’ll explain 
later. If you’ll help me work up the 
nutrient tonight — ” 

“Our pisky nutrient will work. 
We can take your samples within 
the hour. Let me call the hospital.” 

He spoke rapidly to the glower- 
ing butchers in the vernacular, then 
hurried into the building. An hour 
later the stomper was dead, and 
Hawkins drove Cole and the doctor 
back to their lab with the explants. 

“I’ve almost got it,” Cole said 
happily. “Several weeks and two 
more bits of information and I’ll 
tell you. In spite of all odds, one 
man against a planet — this will 
found my professional reputation 
back on Belconti.” 

Once again Cole faced Garth 
Bidgrass across the round table in 
the library. This time he felt vastly 
different. 

“The piskies are really baby 
stompers,” he said, watching the 
craggy old face for its reaction. It 
did not change. 

“I suspected it when I saw how 

55 




the smaller eggs fused with the 
large egg, with continuous lami- 
nae,” Cole went on. “There was the 
morphological resemblance, too. 
But when I dissected two mature 
stompers I found immature eggs. 
Even before entry inlo the oviduct 
what you call pisky eggs are fi la- 
mented to the main body of cyto- 
plasm.” 

Disappointingly, Bidgrass did not 
marvel. He squinted and cocked his 
head. Finally he said, “Do you 
mean the piskies lay their eggs in- 
ternally in the stompers?” 

“Impossible! I made a karyotype 
analysis of pisky and stomper tissue 
and they are identical , I tell you. 
My working hypothesis for now is 
that pisky eggs are fertilized polar 
bodies. It’s not unknown. But that 
the main body should be sterile 
and serve as an external food source 
— that’s new, I’m sure. That will 
get my name in the journals all 
through Carina sector.” 

He could not help smiling hap- 
pily. Bidgrass bit his lower lip and 
stared keenly, not speaking. Cole 
became nettled. 

“I hope you see the logic,” he 
said. “What threatens your stomp- 
ers is harvest pressure from your 
own egg hunters. Stop it for a few 
decades, or set aside breeding areas, 
and you can have a whole planetful 
again.” 

The old man scowled and stood 
up. “We’ll not stop,” he said gruff- 
ly. “There are still plenty of stomp- 
ers. Remember last month.” He 
walked to the end window and 
back, then sat down again still look- 
ing grim. 

“Don’t be too sure,” Cole ob- 



jected. “I haven’t finished my re- 
port. I made a Harvey analysis on 
the tissues of one stomper. It in- 
volves culturing clones, measuring 
growth rates and zones of migration 
and working out a complex set of 
ratios — I won’t go inlo details. But 
when I fitted my figures into Har- 
vey’s formula it indicated unmis- 
takably that the stompers have a 
critical biomass.” 

“What does thai mean?” 

“Think of a species as one great 
animal that never dies, of which 
each individual is only a part. Can 
you do that?” 

“Yes!” the old man exploded, 
sitting bolt upright. 

“Well, the weight of a cross-sec- 
tion of the greater animal at any 
moment in time is its biomass. 
Many species have a point or value 
of critical biomass such that, if it 
falls below that point, the greater 
animal dies. The species loses its 
will to live, decays, drifts into ex- 
tinction in spite of all efforts to 
save it. The stomper is such a spe- 
cies, no doubt whatever. Do you 
see how the slaughter a month ago 
may already have extinguished 
them as a species?” 

Bidgrass nodded, smiling grimly. 
His eyes held a curious light. 

“Tell me, Mr. Cole, your Harvey 
formula — do human beings have a 
critical biomass?” 

"Yes, biologically,” Cole said, 
surprised. “But in our case a vary- 
ing part of the greater animal is 
carried in our culture, our symbol 
system, and is not directly depend- 
ent on biomass. A mathematical 
anthropologist could tell you more 
than I can.” 



56 



R. M. McKENNA 




Bidgrass placed his hands palm 
down on the table and leaned back 
in sudden resolution. 

“Mr. Cole, you force me to tell 
you something 1 had been minded 
to hold back. I already know a good 
part of what you have just told me. 
I wish to exterminate the stompers 
and I will do so. But I meant for 
you to go back to Belconti thinking 
it was the piskies.” 

Cole propped his chin on folded 
hands and raised his eyebrows. “I 
half suspected that. But I fooled 
you, didn’t I?” 

“Yes, and 1 admire you for it. 
Now let me tell you more. Stomper 
egg brings a very high price and I 
have kept it higher by storing large 
reserves. When it is known the 
stomper is extinct, the rarity value 
of my reserve will be enormous. It 
will mean an end of this harsh life 
for me and for rriy grandniece after 
me.” 

Cole’s lip curled, and red mount- 
ed in the old man’s face as he 
talked, but he went on doggedly. 

“I want the pisky theory and the 
news of stomper extinction to be 
released through Belconti Univer- 
sity. The news will spread faster 
and be more readily believed and 
I will avoid a certain moral stig- 
ma — 

“And now T’ve crossed you up!” 

“You can still do it. I can ease 
your conscience with a settlement 
of — say — five thousand solars a 
year for life.” 

Cole leaped up and leaned across 
the table. 

“No!” he snapped. “Old man, 
yoli don’t know how ecologists feel 
about the greed-murder of species. 

THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



What I will do is work through 
Belconti on your government at 
Car Truro, warn it that you are 
about to destroy an important 
planetary resource.” 

Bidgrass stood up too, scowling 
darkly red. 

“Not so fast, young fellow. I have 
copies of your early notes in which 
you call the piskies the critical limit 
factor in stomper extinction. Almost 
three hundred people were killed in 
that stomper attack, and you could 
easily have been one of them. If 
you had, I would naturally have re- 
ported it via the ifcxt Gorbals to 
Belconti and sent along your notes 
to date — do you follow me?” 

“Yes. A threat.” 

“A counter-threat. Think it over 
for a few days, Mr. Cole.” 

* 

C 3LE SAT glumly in his room 
waiting for his dinner and won- 
dering if it would be poisoned. 
When old Hawkins tapped, he 
pulled open the door, only to find 
Pia instead with a service for two. 
She was rosy and smiling in a low- 
cut, off-shoulder brown dress lie 
had not seen before. 

“May I eat dinner with you to- 
night, Flinter?” she asked. 

“Please do,” he said, startled. 
“Am ] people now, or something?” 
“Uncle Garth says now dial you 
know — ” She broke off, blushing 
still more. 

“I don’t like what I know,” he 
said somberly, “but it’s not you, 
Pia. Here, let me.” 

He pulled the cart into the room 
and helped her set the things on 
his table. Pia was lovely, he decided, 



57 




wanting to caress the smooth round- 
ness of her shoulders and dimpled 
arms. When she sat across the small 
table from him he could not help 
responding to the swell of her round 
breasts barely below the neckline. 
But her manner seemed forced and 
she looked more frightened than 
ever. 

“You look like a little rabbit that 
knows it’s strayed too far from the 
woods, Pia. What are you always 
afraid of?” 

Her smile faded. “Not because 
I’m too far from the woods,” she 
said. “What’s a rabbit? But let’s not 
talk about fear.” 

They talked of food and weather 
through a more than usually elab- 
orate dinner. There was a bottle of 
Tristanian kresch to follow it. Cole 
splashed the blue wine into the two 
crystal goblets, gave her one and 
held up his own. 

“Here’s to the richest little girl 
on Tristan someday,” he said, half 
mockingly. 

Tears sprang to her eyes. “I don’t 
want to be rich. I just want a home 
away from New Cornwall, just any- 
where. I was born on Tristan. Oh 
Flinter, what you must think — ” 
She began crying in earnest. 

He patted her shoulder. “Forgive 
me for a fool, Pia. Tell me about 
Tristan. I had only one day there, 
waiting for GorbaW tender.” 

She spoke of her childhood on 
Tristan, and the tension eased in 
both. Finally she proposed a picnic 
for the next day, the two of them 
to take a sports flyer into the forest 
top. He agreed with pleasure and 
squeezed her hand in saying good 
night. 

58 



She squeezed back a little. But 
she still looked frightened. 

Next day Pia wore a brief yellow 
playsuit, and Cole could not keep 
his eyes off her. When he was load- 
ing the picnic hamper into the small 
flyer before the main hangar, she 
suddenly pressed close to him. He 
followed her wide-eyed gaze over 
his right shoulder and saw Morgan 
bulking darkly Len feel away. 

“Hello there, Mr. Morgan,” Cole 
said into the impassive, face under 
the black bar of eyebrow. 

Morgan rumbled in vernacular 
and walked on. His lips did not 
move. 

“You’re afraid of Morgan,” Cole 
said when he had the flyer aloft and 
heading east. 

“He’s a bard. He has a power,” 
she said. “Today, let's forget him.” 

Cole looked back al the bulk of 
Lundy Peninsula, swelling lost into 
blue-green distance from the nar- 
row isthmus. The straight slash of 
Bidgrass Station from sea to sea 
looked puny beside the mighty for- 
est towering on either side. Then 
Pia had his arm and wanted him to 
land. 

He grounded on a pinkish-green 
mass of lichen several acres in area. 
Pia assured him it would support 
the flyer, reminding him of the 
planet’s low gravity. 

The resilient surface gave off a 
fragrance as they walked about on 
it. In a sea all around their island, 
branches of the great forest trees 
thrust up, leafy and flowering and 
bedecked with a profusion of epi- 
phytal plants in many shapes and 
colors. Bright-hued true birds 

R. M. McKENNA 




darted from shadow into sunlight 
and back again, twittering and cry- 
ing. 

“It’s beautiful,” he said. And so 
was Pia, he thought, watching her 
on tiptoe reaching to a great white 
flower. The attractive firmness of 
her skin, the roundness and dim- 
pling, ripeness , that was the word 
he wanted. And her eyes. 

“Pia, you’re not frightened any 
more!” 

It was true. The long-lashed 
brown eyes were merry as nature 
meant them to be. 

“It’s peaceful and safe,” she said. 
“When I come to the forest top I 
never want to go back to Bidgrass 
Station.” 

“Too bad we must, and let’s pre- 
tend we don't,” lie said, pointing to 
a cluster of red-gold fruits. “Are 
those good to cat?” 

“Too good. That’s the trouble 
with New Cornwall.” 

“What do you mean?” 

“Race you hack to the flyer,” she 
cried, and danced away, bare limbs 
twinkling in the sunlight. He floun- 
dered after. 

The lunch was good and she had 
brought along the rest of the bottle 
of kresch. They sipped it seated be- 
side the flyer while she tried to 
teach him New Cornish folk songs. 
Her small, clear singing blended 
with that of the birds around them. 

“I catch parts of it,” he said. “As 
an undergraduate a few years ago I 
studied the pre-space poets. I can 
read Old English, but it is strange 
to my car.” 

“I could teach you.” 

“I love one wry-witted ancient 
named Robert Graves. How does it 



go: 1/ strange things happen 

where she is — no, I can’t recall it 
now.” 

“I could write the songs out for 

you.” 

“The beauty is in you and your 
voice. Just sing.” 

She sang, something about a king 
with light streaming from his hair, 
coming naked out of the folest to 
bring love into his kingdom. Small 
white clouds drifted in the blue sky, 
and blue Annis slept just above the 
rustling branches that guarded the 
secret of their island. He listened 
and watched her. 

She was softly rounded as the 
clouds, and her clustered brown 
curls made an island of the vivid 
face expressing the song she sang so 
bird-like and naturally. She was 
vital, compact, self closed, perfect 
— like one of the great flowers nod- 
ding in the breeze along the island 
shore — and his heart yearned across 
to her. * 

“Pia,” he said, breaking into the 
song, “do you really want to get 
away from New Cornwall?” 

She nodded, eyes suddenly wide, 
lips still parted. 

“Come with me to Belconti then. 
Right now. We’ll cross to Car Truro 
and wait there for Gorbals ” 

The light dimmed in her face. 
“Why Car Truro?” 

“Pia, it’s hard to tell you. I’m 
afraid of your great-uncle ... I 
want to contact the planetary gov- 
ernment.” 

“It’s no good at Car Truro, 
Flinter. Can’t you just come back 
to Bidgrass Station and . . . and . . . 
do what Uncle Garth wants?” 

He could barely hear the last. 



THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



59 




The fear was back in her eyes. 

“Do you know what he wants?” 

“Yes.” The brown curls drooped. 

Cole stood up. “So that's the rea- 
son — well, .I’ll not do it, do you 
hear? Garth Bidgrass is an evil, 
greedy old man and maybe it runs 
in the blood.” 

She jumped up, eyes more angry 
now than fearful. “He is not! He’s 
trying to save you! He’s good and 
noble and . . . and great! If you 
only knew the truth — Morwenna 
forgive me!” She clapped her hand 
to her mouth. 

"Tell me the truth then, since 
I’m still being made a Belconti fool 
of. What is the truth?” 

“I’ve said too much. Now I’ll 
have to tell Uncle Garth — ” She 
began crying. 

“Tell him what? That I know 
he’s a liar? That you failed as a — ” 
He could not quite say the word. 

“It’s true I was supposed to make 
you love me and I tried and I can’t 
because . . . because . . .” she ended 
in incoherent sobbing. 

Cole stroked her hair and com- 
forted her. “I’ve been hasty again,” 
he apologized. “I’m still running in 
the dark, and that makes for stum- 
bles. Let’s go back, and I’ll talk to 
your great-uncle again.” 

I N THE morning Garth Bidgrass, 
looking tired and stern, invited 
Cole to breakfast with the family. 
Cole had never been in the large, 
wood-panelled room overlooking 
the south garden through broad 
windows. Pia was subdued, Mrs. 
Vignoli strangely cheerful. The 
meal, served by a giant maid, was 



the customary plain porridge and 
fried meat. 

The women left when the maid 
cleared the table. Bidgrass poured 
more coffee, then leaned back and 
looked across at Cole. 

“Mr. Cole, I did you a wrong in 
having you sent here. I kept you in 
the dark for your own protection. 
Can you believe that?” 

“I can believe that you believe 
it.” 

“You came too soon. You were 
too curious, too smart. I have had 
to compound that wrong with 
others to Pia and my own good 
name.” 

Cole smiled. “I know I’m curi- 
ous. But why can’t I know — ” 

“You can, lad. You’ve nosed 
through to it and I’ll tell you if you 
insist. But it will endanger you even 
more and I wish you would forego 
it.” 

Cole shook his head. “I’m an 
ecologist. If I have the big picture, 
maybe I can help.” 

“I thought you’d say that. Well, 
history first, and settle yourself be- 
cause it is a big picture and not a 
pretty one. This planet was settled 
directly from Earth in the year 145 
After Space, almost eight hundred 
years ago. It seemed ideal — native 
protein was actually superior to 
Earth protein in human metabo- 
lism. Easy climate, geophysically 
stable, no diseases — but planetology 
was not much of a science in those 
days. 

“The colony won political inde- 
pendence in 202 A.S. It had a thriv- 
ing trade in luxury foods, mostly 
stomper egg concentrates — freight 
was dear then. Settlements radiated 



60 



R. M. McKENNA 




out from Car Truro across the 
plains. Food was to be had for the 
taking in the mild climate and it 
was a kind of paradise. Paradise !” 

The old man’s voice rang hard 
on the last word and Cole stiffened. 
Bidgrass went on. 

“Early in the third century our 
social scientists began to worry 
about the unnatural way the cul- 
ture graded from the complexity of 
Car Truro to a simple pattern of 
mud huts and food gathering along 
the frontiers. Children of successive 
generations were taller than their 
parents and much less willing or 
able to use symbols. By the time a 
minority decided the trend should 
be reversed, the majority of the peo- 
ple could not be roused to see a 
danger.” 

“Earth life is normally resistant 
to low-grav gigantism,” Cole said. 
“I wonder — ” 

“It was all the native foods they 
ate, but mainly stomper egg. There 
are more powerful and quicker- 
acting substances in the forest fungi, 
but then the population was all in 
the eastern grasslands, where the 
s tempers ranged.” 

“I read they were a plains ani- 
mal.” 

“Yes, and harmless too, except 
for their eggs. Well, the minority 
set up a dictatorship and began cul- 
tivating Earth plants and animals. 
They passed laws limiting the me- 
chanical simplicity of households 
and regulating diets. They took 
children from subnormal parents 
and educated and fed them in 
camps. But the normals were too 
few and the trend continued. 

“Shortly after mid-century the 

THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN . 



population reached the edge of the 
southern forest, and there many 
were completely wild. They drifted 
along the forest edge naked, with- 
out tools or fire or language or even 
family groupings. Their average 
stature was nearly eight feet. The 
normals knew they were losing. Can 
you imagine how they felt, lad?” 

Cole relaxed a little. “Ah . . . yes, 
I can ... I imagine the fight was 
inside them, too.” 

Bidgrass nodded. “Yes, they were 
all tainted. But they fought. They 
asked Earth for help and learned 
that Earth regarded them as tyrants 
oppressing a simple, natural folk. 
The economy broke down and more 
had to be imported. The only way 
to pay was in stomper egg exports. 
In spite of that, in about the year 
300, they decided to restrict the 
stompers to the western part of the 
grasslands, thousands of miles be- 
yond the human range. 

“The egg hunters began killing 
piskies and grown stompers. They 
killtal off the great, stupid herds of 
darv cattle on which the stompers 
fed. The stompers that survived be- 
came wary and hostile, good at hid- 
ing and fierce to attack. But killing 
off the eastern darv herds broke 
them and in a generation they van- 
ished from the eastern plains. 
Things seemed to improve and they 
thought the tide was turned. Then, 
in the year 374, came what our 
bards now call the Black Learning.” 

“Bards?” Cole said. He drained 
his coffee cup. 

“Morgan could sing you this his- 
tory to shiver the flesh on your 
bones,” the old man said, pouring- 
more coffee. “What I am telling 

61 




you is nowhere written down, but 
it is engraved in thousands of 
hearts. Well, to go on. 

‘‘We knew some of the stompers 
had gone into the southern forest — 
you see, they have to incubate their 
eggs in direct sunlight and we kept 
finding them along the forest edge. 
But we had assumed they were eat- 
ing the snakes and slugs and fungi 
native to the forest floor. Now we 
learned that a large population of 
wild humans had grown up un- 
known to us in the deep forest — 
and the stompers were eating them. 

“You have seen our forests from 
a distance, lad. Do you realize how 
impossible it is to patrol them? We 
hadn’t the men, money or machines 
for it. We appealed, and learned 
we would get no help from any 
planet in Carina sector except for 
pay. But the egg market fell off, 
and our income with it. Ships did 
come, however, small ones in 
stealth, to ground along the forest 
edge and capture the young women 
of the wild people.” 

Cole struck the table. “How rot- 
ten . . . !” His voice failed. 

Bidgrass nodded. “We call that 
the Lesser Shame. The young wom- 
en were without personality or lan- 
guage, yet tractable and responsive 
to affection. They were flawless in 
health and physique, and eight feet 
tall. They could be sold for fantas- 
tic prices on loosely organized fron- 
tier planets and yes, even to Earth, 
as we learned. Something dark in a 
man responds to that combination. 
You feel it as I speak — no, don’t 
protest, I know. Wc had long had 
that trouble among our own peo- 
ple.” 

62 



“Did my own people of Belconti 
— ” Again Cole’s voice failed. He 
brushed back his red hair angrily. 

“Belconti was new then, still a 
colony. Well, that was the help we 
got. We hadn’t the power to fight 
stompers, let alone slave raiders. 
But the Galactic Patrol was just 
getting organized and the sector 
admiral agreed to keep a ship in 
orbit blockading us. Wc broke oIT 
all contact except with Tristan, and 
the Patrol let only one freight line 
come through to handle our off- 
planet trade. It was then wc began 
to hate the other planets. We call 
it the Turning Away. 

“Now we are forgotten, almost a 
myth. The Patrol ship has been 
gone since two hundred years ago. 
But we remember.” 

“I wish I’d known this,” Cole 
said. “Mr. Bidgrass, things are 
greatly changed in Carina sector — ” 

Bidgrass held up his hand. “I 
know, lad. That’s why you’re here, 
and I’ll come to it. But let me go 
on. Early in the fifth century we 
decided to exterminate the stump- 
ers altogether and in two decades 
killed off all the darv cattle. But 
the stompers went into the forests 
in the south and west and from 
there came out to raid the plains. 
Not to kill, but to carry off normal 
and semi-wild people into the forest 
for breeding stock. A stomper’s 
wing is more flexible than a hand. 
One of them can carry half a dozen 
men and women and run a thou- 
sand miles in a day. Some fungi in 
the forest can dull a man in an hour 
and take his mind in a week. Few 
who were carried in ever came out 
again. 



R : M : McKENNA 




“This went on, lad, for centuries. 
From our fortified towns and hunt- 
ing camps we ranged along the for- 
est edge like wolves. The stompers 
must lay their eggs in direct sun- 
light. That forced them out where 
we could get at them, into clearings 
and uplands and along the forest 
edge. We killed all we could. 

“We found rhythms in their life 
pattern keyed lo our four moons. 
When the three lady moons form a 
tall triangle, the stompers group in 
the open to mill and dance and 
sing. About every three months this 
happens over several days and in 
old times it was the peak raid sea- 
son. It was also our chance to kill. 
The people call the configuration 
the House of the Maidens.” 

Cole nodded vigorously. “I re- 
member that. Strange how lunar 
periodicity is bionative in every 
planet having a moon.” 

“It saved us here, praise Morwen- 
na, but once almost destroyed us. 
There is a longer, sixty-two year 
cycle called the Nights of Hoggy 
Darn. Them the red moon passes 
through the House of the Maidens 
artd the stompers go completely 
berserk. The first one after the war 
was joined fully, in 434, caught us 
unprepared and cost us more than 
three-fourths of our normal popula- 
tion in the week that we remember 
as the Great Taking. We were 
thrown back into Car Truro for 
decades and the stompers came 
back on the plains. They snatched 
people from the streets of Car 
Truro itself. That we call the Dark 
Time. 15 

The old man’s craggy face shad- 
owed with sorrow and he sighed, 

THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



leaning back. Cole opened his 
mouth but Bidgrass leaned forward 
again, new, fierce energy in his 
voice. 

“We rallied and came back. We 
fought from the air and killed them 
in large numbers when we caught 
them in the open on Maiden nights. 
We drove them back off the plains 
and harried them along the forest 
edges and in the upland clearings 
where they came to lay eggs. We 
gathered all the eggs we could find. 
They defended their eggs and 
caused us steady losses. But we 
fought. 

“We built our strategy on the 
Maidens and in time we drove the 
enemy out of the southern forest 
and into the west. Then we crowded 
him into Lundy Peninsula, made 
it a sanctuary for a hundred years 
to draw him in. When I was your 
age we fought out the last Nights 
of Hoggy Darn a few miles east of 
here. Ten years later we finished 
Bidgrass Station and the barrier 
and the continent was free of 
stompers.” 

Cole shifted his chair to get the 
sun off his neck. “I hardly know 
what to say,” he began, but Bid- 
grass raised his hand. 

“I’ve more to tell you, that you 
must know. By the late seventh 
century things were normal around 
Car Truro as regards regression. 
We began a pilot program of recla- 
mation. The egg hunters captured 
wild people along the forest edge, 
still do. But some are beyond sav- 
ing, and those they kill. We have 
to pen them like animals at first, 
but they can be trained to work in 
the fields, and for a long time now 

63 




we have hail few machines except 
what we need for war. Their chil- 
dren, on an Earth diet, come back 
toward normal in size and intelli- 
gence. The* fourth and fifth genera- 
tions are normal enough to join in 
the war. But war has always come 
first and wc have never been able 
to spare many normals for reclama- 
tion work. 

“Even so, ex-wilds make up more 
than half our normal population 
now. That’s about forty thousand; 
there arc nearly a hundred thou- 
sand on the reclamation ladder, 
mostly around Car Truro. The ex- 
wilds have a queer, poetic strain, 
and mainly through them we’ve 
developed a sort of religion along 
the way. It helps the subnormals 
who are so powerfully drawn to run 
back to the forests. It’s a strange 
mixture of poetry and prophecy, 
but it’s breath of life to the ex- 
wilds. 1 guess I pretty well believe 
it myself and even you believe some 
of it.” 

Cole looked his question, hitch- 
ing his chair nearer the table. 

‘Yes, your notion of the greater 
animal, critical biomass, that you 
spoke of. Wc speak of Grandfather 
Stomper and wc are trying to kill 
him. He is trying to enslave Grand- 
father Man. The whole purpose 
and meaning of human life, to an 
ex-wild, is to kill Grandfather 
Stomper and then to reclaim 
Grandfather Man from the forest. 
You would have to hear Morgan 
sing it to appreciate how deeply 
they feel that, lad.” 

“I feel it, a little. I understand 
Morgan now, I think. He’s an ex- 
wild, isn’t he?” 



‘‘Yes, and our master bard. In 
some ways he has more power than 
I.” 

Cole got up. ‘‘Mind if I pull a 
curtain? That sun is hot.” 

“No, go ahead. Our coffee is 
cold,” the old man said, rising too. 
“I’ll ask lor a fresh pot.” 

Seated again in the shaded room, 
Bidgrass resumed, “There’s not 
much more. After the barrier was 
up it seemed as if Grandfather 
Stomper knew his time was running 
out. Don’t laugh now. Individual 
stompers don’t have intelligence, 
symbol-using, that is, as far as we 
know. But they changed from plains 
to forest. They learned to practise 
a gruesome kind of animal hus- 
bandry — oh, I could tell you things. 
Something had to figure it out.” 
“I’m not laughing,” Cole said. 

“You’re talking sound ecology. Go 
__ 
on. 

“Well, they began laying eggs 
right along the barrier and didn’t 
try to defend them. Wc picked up 
hundreds, even thousands, every 
day. The people said Grandfather 
Stomper was trying to make peace, 
to pay rent on Lundy Lores t. And 
maybe he was. 

“But we spat in his face. We 
gathered his tribute and still took 
all the eggs we could find in the 
inland clearings. We killed every 
stomper we saw. Then, for the first 
time I think, Grandfather Stomper 
knew it was war to the death. He 
began to fight as never before. 
Where once a stomper would carry 
a captured egg hunter a hundred 
miles into the forest and turn him 
loose, now it killed out of hand. 
They began making mass attacks on 



64 



R. M. McKENNA 




the station and they didn't come to 
capture, they came to kill. So it has 
gone for forty years now.” 

The old man’s Voice changed, 
less fierce, more solemn. He sat up 
straight. 

‘‘Lundy Forest is near eight hun- 
dred thousand square miles. No 
one knows how many millions of 
wild humans are in it or how many 
scores of thousands of stomper*. 
But this 1 knew long before you 
came to tell me about critical bio- 
mass: Grandfather Stompcr is very 
near to death. He ruled this planet 
for a million years and he fought 
me for near :% thousand, but his 
time is come. 

“Don’t laugh, lad, at what I am 
about to say now. Mass belief, blind 
faith over centuries of people like 
our ex-wilds and semi-wilds, can do 
strange things. To them and even 
to myself I re present Grandfather 
Man, and from them a power comes 
into me that is more than myself. I 
know in a direct way that in the 
Nights of Hoggy Darn to come I 
will at long > last kill Grandfather 
Stomper and the war will be won. 
That time is only eight weeks 
away.” 

“Then Til still be here. Grand — 
Mr. Bidgrass, I want to fight with 
you.” 

“You may and welcome, lad. 
Must, even, to redeem yourself. 
Because, for what you know now, 
your life is forfeit if the ex-wilds 
suspect.” 

“Why so? Are you not proud — ” 
Cole haif stood and Bidgrass waved 
him down. 

“Consider, lad. For centuries 
across the inhabited planets people 

THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



of wealth and influence have been 
eating stomper egg, serving it at 
state banquets. But now you know 
it is human flesh at one remove. 
How will they feel toward us when 
they learn that?” 

“How should they feel? Man has 
to be consumed at some trophic 
level. His substance is as much in 
the biogeochemical cycles as that 
of a pig or a chicken. I suppose we 
do feel he should cap the end of a 
food chain and not short-cycle 
through himself, but I’m damned 
if I’m horrified — ” 

“Any non-ecologist would be. 
You know that.” 

The giant maid came in with a 
pot of coITee and clean cups. Bid- 
grass poured and both men sipped 
in silence. Then Bidgrass said slow- 
ly, “Do you know what the people 
here call outworlders? Cannibals! 
For centuries we have had the feel- 
ing that we have been selling our 
own flesh to the outworlds in ex- 
change for the weapons to free 
Grandfather Man.” 

He stood up, towering over Cole, 
and his voice deepened. 

“It has left bone-deep marks: of 
guilt, for making the outworlders 
unknowing cannibals ; of hatred, 
because we feel the outworlds left 
us no choice. And shame, lad, deep, 
deep shame, more than a man can 
bear, to have been degraded to food 
animals here in our forests and 
across the opulent tables of the 
other planets. Morgan is only sec- 
ond-generation normal — his father 
was killed beside me, last Hoggy 
Darn. If Morgan knew you had 
learned our secret he would kill 
you out of hand. I could not stop 

65 




him. Do you understand now why 
wc didn’t want you until next Gor- 
bals? Do you see into the hell you 
have been skating over?” 

Cole nodded and rubbed his chin. 
“Yes, I do. But I don’t despise 
Morgan, I think I love him. On 
Belconti, Grandfather Man is main- 
ly concerned to titillate his own 
appetites, but here, well . . . how do 
I feel it? ... I think what you have 
just told me makes me more proud 
to be a man than I have ever been 
before. I will carry through the de- 
ception of Belconti University with 
all my heart. Can’t Morgan under- 
stand that?” 

“Yes, and kill you anyway. Be- 
cause you know . You will not light- 
ly be forgiven that.” 

Cole shook his head helplessly. 
“Well dammit then — ” 

“Now, now, there’s a way out,” 
Bidgrass said, sitting down again. 
“The prophecies all foretell a 
change of heart after Grandfather 
Stomper dies. They speak of joy, 
love, good feeling. Morgan did 
agree to your coming here — he 
wants to hide the past as much as 
I do and lie could see the value of 
my plan. In the time of good feel- 
ing I hope he will accept you.” 

“I hope so too,” Cole said. 
“Morgan is a strange man. Why is 
Pia so afraid of him?” 

“I’ll tell you that, lad — maybe it 
will help you to appreciate your 
own danger. Some few of us arc 
educated on Tristan. Twenty-three 
years ago my younger brother took 
my niece Flada there. She ran away 
and married a Tristanian named 
Ralph Vignoli. My brother per- 
suaded them to come back and live 



at our installation there, and Ralph 
swore to keep secret the little he 
knew. 

“The ex-wilds of New Cornwall 
kept wanting Ralph to come here 
so they could be sure of the secret. 
He kept refusing and finally they 
sent an emissary to kill him. My 
brother was killed protecting him. 
I stepped in then with a compro- 
mise, persuaded Ralph to come 
here for the sake of his wife and 
daughter. Pia was seven at the 
time. 

“Ralph was a good man and 
fought well in battles, but two years 
later Morgan and some others came 
to the house in my absence and 
took him away. They took him to a 
clearing in Lundy Forest, where 
the stompers come to lay eggs, 
stripped ofT his clothing and left 
him. That was so the stompers 
would not take him for an egg 
hunter and kill him outright, but 
would carry him into the forest 
like they do with strayed wild stock. 
Morgan said the command came to 
him in a dream. 

“I think Pia feels she is partly 
responsible for Ralph’s death. I 
think she sometimes fears Morgan 
will dream about her, her Tristan- 
ian blood. . . .” 

“Poor Pia,” Cole said softly. 
“These years of grief and fear. . . .” 

“They’ll be ended come Hoggy 
Darn again, Morwenna grant. 
Don’t you grieve her with your 
death too, lad. Stay close to the 
house, in the house.” 

Bidgrass rose and gulped the last 
of his coffee standing. 

“I must go, T in laic,” he said, 
more cheerfully than Cole had ever 



66 



R. M. McKENNA 




heard his voice. “I have a confer- 
ence with General Arscoate, our 
military leader, whom you’ll meet 
soon.” 

He went out. Cole went out too, 
thoughts wrestling with feelings, 
looking for Pia. 

I N THE DAYS that followed 
Cole took his meals with the 
family except when there were 
guests not in Bidgrass’ confidence. 
The doors into the main house re- 
mained unlocked and he saw much 
of Pia, but she seemed unexpected- 
ly elusive and remote. Cole, busy 
with his report to Bclconti Uni- 
versity, had little time to wonder 
about it. 

He faked statistics wholesale and 
cited dozens of nonexistent New 
Cornish authorities. To his real data 
indicating critical biomass he added 
imaginary values for the param- 
eters of climate, range, longevity, 
fertility period and Ruhan indices 
to get an estimated figure. Then he 
faked field census reports going 
back fifty years, and drew a curve 
dipping below critical ten years be- 
fore his arrival. He made the latest 
field census show new biomass forty- 
two percent below critical and jug- 
gled figures to make the curve ex- 
trapolate to zero in twelve more 
years. 

It pained him in his heart to 
leave out the curious inverse re- 
production data. But it was a mas- 
terpiece of deception that should 
put the seal on his doctorate, and 
because it reported the extinction 
of a planetary dominant, he knew 
it would make the journals and the 

THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



general news all through the sector. 

The night he finished it, working 
late in the library, Pia brought him 
milk and cookies and sat with him 
as he explained what he had done. 

“It’s right,” he defended himself 
to her against his scholar’s con- 
science. “Humans on New Cornwall 
are a threatened species too. The 
secret must he hidden forever.” 
“Yes,” she agreed soberly. “I 
think if all the sector knew, the ex- 
wilds would literally die of shame 
and rage. Being wild is not so bad, 
but— that other!” She shuddered 
under her gray dress. 

“Pia, sometimes I feel you’re still 
avoiding me. Surely now it’s all 
right and genuine between us.” 

She smiled sadly. “I’ll bring you 
trouble, with Morgan. Father came 
to New Cornwall because of me.” 
“But 1 didn’t. I’ve been thinking 
I may stay, partly because of you. 
You've been afraid so long it’s ha- 
bitual.” 

“Strangely, Flinter, I don’t feel 
it as fear any more. It’s like bowing 
with sadness, my strength to run is 
gone. My old dreams — Morgan 
coming for me — I have them every 
night now.” 

“Morgan! Always Morgan!” 

She shook her head and smiled 
faintly. “He has a dark, poetic 
power. He is what he is, just like 
the stompers. I feel . . . not hate, 
not even fear ... a kind of dread' 3 
He stroked the back of her hand 
and she pulled it away. 

“An old song runs through my 
head,” she went on. “A prophecy 
that Grandfather Stomper cannot 
be killed while outworld blood 
pumps through any heart on the 

67 




planet. I feel like my own enemy, 
like . . . like your enemy. You should 
not have come until next G orb ah. 
Flinter, stay away from me!” 

He talked soothingly, to little 
avail. When they parted he said 
heartily, “Forget those silly prophe- 
cies, Pia. I’ll look out for you . 75 
Privately, he wondered how. 

Cole sat beside Pia and across 
the food-laden table from General 
Arscoate, a large pink -fa cod man in 
middle life. 

“It’s an old and proven strategy, 
Mr. Cole,” the general explained. 
“When Hoggy Darn starts we will 
harass the enemy from the air in all 
but one of the fourteen sizable open 
spaces in Lundy Forest. That one 
is Emrys Upland, the largest. They 
will concentrate in Emrys, more 
each night, until the climactic night 
of peak frenzy. Then we come down 
with all the men and women we 
can muster and we kill. We may go 
on killing stragglers for years after, 
but Grandfather Stomper will die 
on that night.” 

“Why not kill from the air?” 
“More firepower on the ground. 
I can only lift ninety-four flyers all 
told. But I will shuttle twenty thou- 
sand fighting men into Emrys in an 
hour or two on the big night.” 

“So quickly? How can you?” 
Cole laid down his fork. 

“They will be waiting in the for- 
est top all around the periphery, in 
places where we are already build- 
ing weapons dumps. In the first 
days of harrying, we will stage in 
the fighters.” 

“Morgan will visit each group in 
the forest top and sing our history,” 



Bidgrass said from the head of the 
table. “On the evening of the cli- 
mactic night, as Hoggy Darn rises, 
they will take a sacramental meal 
of stomper egg. At no other time is 
it eaten on this planet.” 

Mrs. Vignoli looked down. 
“Garth!” Arscoate said. 

“The lad must know, must take 
it with us,” Bidgrass said. “Lad, the 
real reason for not killing from the 
air is that the people need, to kill 
personally, with their feet on the 
ground. So our poetry has always 
described that last, great fight. I 
must personally kill Grandfather 
Stomper.” 

Cole toyed with his knife. “But 
he is only a metaphor, a totem 
image — ” 

“The people believe in an actual 
individual who is the stomper coun- 
terpart of Garth here,” the general 
broke in. “You know, Mr. Cole, 
the stoinpers wc kill ordinarily are 
all females. The males are smaller, 
with a white crest, and they keep 
to the deep forest except on Iloggy 
Darn nights. Maybe the frenzy then 
has something to do with mating — 
no one. knows. But Garlh will kill 
the largest male he can find. The 
people, and I expect Garth and I 
as well, are going to believe that he 
has killed Grandfather Stomper in 
person.” 

The general sipped water and 
looked sternly over his glass at Cole. 
Cole glanced at Pia, who seemed 
lost in a dream of her own,, not 
there to them. 

“I see. A symbol,” he agreed. 

“Not the less real,” Arscoate said 
tartly. “Symbols both mean and 
are. Garth here is a symbol too and 



68 



R M. McKENNA 




that is why, old as lie is, he must be 
in the thick of it. He is like the 
ancient battle flags of romantic pre- 
space history. People before now 
have actually seen Grandfather 
Stomper. I am not a superstitious 
backworlder, Mr. Cole, but — ” 

Cole raised a placatory hand. “I 
know you are not, general. Forgive 
me if I seemed to suggest it.” 

‘'Let’s have wine,” Bid grass said, 
pushing back his chair. “Wr’ll take 
it in the parlor and Pia canning 
for us.” 

When General Arscoate said 
good -night he told Cole not to 
worry, that he would have reliable 
guards at the manor gate during 
Garth Bidgrass’ absence in Car 
Truro. 

“I meant to tell you and Pia in 
the morning, lad,” Bidgrass said. 
“Arscoate and 1 must go to Car 
Truro. There's heartburning there 
over who gets to fight and who must 
stay behind. It will be only ^ two 
days.” 

C OLE FELT uneasy all day. He 
spent most of it writing the cov- 
ering letter for his report and phras- 
ing his resignation from the uni- 
versity field staff. He wrote personal 
letters to his uncle and a few 
friends. After dinner he finally 
signed the official letters and took 
the completed report to Bidgrass 5 
desk. Then he went to bed and slept 
soundly. 

Pia wakened him with frantic 
shaking. 

“Dress quickly, Flinter. The 
guard at the gate was just changed 
and it’s not time. 55 



She darted out to the hall win- 
dow while he struggled with cloth- 
ing, then back again. 

“Quickly, darling! Morgan’s 
crossing the garden, with men. Fol- 
low me.” 

She led him through the kitchen 
and out a pantry window, then 
stooping along the base of a hedge 
to where a flowering tree over- 
shadowed the garden wall. 

“I planned this, out of sight of 
guard posts, when I was a little 
girl,” she whispered. “I always 
knew — over, Flinter, quickly!” 

Outside was rough ground, a 
road, a wide field of cabbages and 
then the barrier. Veiled Annis 
rode high and bluish in the clear 
sky. They crossed the field in soar- 
ing leaps, and shouts pursued them. 
The girl ran north a hundred yards 
behind the shadowy buttresses and 
squeezed through a narrow crack 
between two huge timber baulks. 
Cole barely made it, skinning his 
shoulders. 

“I found this too when I was a 
little girl,” Pia whispered. “I had 
to enlarge it when my hips grew, 
but only just enough. Morwenna 
grant they’re all too big!” 

“Morgan is, for sure,” Cole said, 
rubbing his shoulder. “Pia, I hate 
to run.” 

“We must still run. My old plan 
was to reach here unseen, but now 
they know and they’ll come over 
the wall in flyers. We’ll have to 
hide in the thick brush near the 
forest edge until Uncle Garth re- 
turns. 

She pulled a basket out of the 
shadows. 

“Food,” she said. “I brought it 



THE NIGHT OF HOGGV DARN 



69 




last night.” 

He carried the basket and they 
raced across the half-mile belt to 
concealment among high shrubbery 
and enormous mounds of fungi. 
Flyers with floodlights came low 
along the wall and others quartered 
the clearing. Cole and Pia stole 
nearer to the forest edge, into its 
shadow. They did not sleep. 

Once he asked, "How about 
stampers?” 

“They’re a chance,” she whis- 
pered. “Morgan’s sure . 39 

With daylight they saw four fly- 
ers patrolling instead of the usual 
one. At their backs colossal black- 
ish-gray, deeply rugose tree trunks 
eighty feet in diameter rose up and 
up without a branch for many hun- 
dreds of feet. Then branches jutted 
out enormously and the colorful 
cascade of forest-top epiphytes 
came down the side and hung over 
their heads a thousand feet above. 

Pia opened the food basket and 
they ate, seated on a bank. She 
wore her brown dress, her finest, 
he had learned, and she had new 
red shoes. She was quiet, as if 
tranced. 

Cole remembered the picnic on 
the forest top, the secret island of 
beauty and innocence, and his heart 
stirred. He saw that the food basket 
was the same one. He did not tell 
her his thoughts. 

They talked of trivial things or 
were silent for long periods. He 
held her hand. Once she roused 
herself to say, "Tomorrow, about 
this time, Uncle Garth will come 
looking for us.” Shortly after, she 
gasped and caught his arm, point- 
ing. 



He peered, finally made a gestalt 
of broken outlines through the 
shrubbery. It was a stomper, swing- 
ing its head nervously. 

“It smells us,” she whispered. 
"Oh Flinter, forgive me darling. 
Take off your clothes, quickly ! 33 

She undressed rapidly and hid 
her clothes. Cole undressed too, fear 
prickling his skin, remembering 
what Bidgrass had told him. The 
stomper moved nearer in a crackle 
of brush and stopped again. 

Man and girl knelt trembling un- 
der a fan of red-orange fungus. The 
girl broke off a piece and motioned 
the man to do the same. 

"When it comes, pretend to eat,” 
she breathed, almost inaudibly. 
"Don’t look up and don’t say a 
word. Morwenna be with us now.” 

The stomper’s shadow fell across 
them. The man’s skin prickled and 
sweat sprang out. He looked at the 
girl and she was pale but not tense, 
munching on her piece of fungus. 
She clicked her teeth faintly and 
he knew it was a signal. He ate. 

The stomper lifted the man by 
his right shoulder. It was like two 
fingers in a mitten holding him 
three times his own height off the 
ground. He saw the beak and the 
eye and his sight dimmed in an- 
guish. 

Then the right wing reached 
down and nipped the left shoulder 
of the rosy girl- body placidly 
crouching there. It swung her up 
to face the man momentarily un- 
der the great beak and the tricorn 
eye, and their own eyes met. 

Very faintly she smiled and her 
eyes tried desperately to say, "I’m 
sorry” and "Goodbye, Flinter.” His 



70 



R. M. McKENNA 




eyes cried in agony “No! No! I will 
not have it so!” 

Then the two-fingered mitten be- 
came a nine-fingered mitten lap- 
ping him in darkness that bounced 
and swayed and he knew that the 
stomper was running into Lundy 
Forest. The wing was smooth and 
warm but not soft, and it smelled 
of cinnamon and sandalwood. The 
odor overpowered him and the man 
lapsed into stupor. 

The man woke into a fantastic 
dream. Luminous surfaces stretched 
up to be lost in gloom, with columns 
of darkness between. The spongy 
ground on which lie lay shone with 
faint blue light. Luminous, slanting 
walls criss-crossed in front of him. 
Close at hand, behind and to the 
right, enormous bracket fungi as- 
cended into darkness in ten-foot 
steps that supported a profusion of 
higher order fungi in many bizarre 
shapes. 

He stood up and he was alone. 

He climbed over a slanting root- 
buttress and saw her lying there. 
He called' her name and she rose 
lightly and came to him. Radiant 
face, dimpled arms, round breasts, 
cradling hips: his woman. They 
embraced without shame and she 
cried thanks to Morwenna. 

He said, “People have come out 
of the forest. What are the rules?” 

“We must cat only the seeds of 
the pure white fungus — that’s the 
least dangerous. We must walk and 
walk to keep our bodies so tired and 
hungry that they use it all. We must 
keep to a straight line.” 

“We’ll live,” he said. “Outside 
among our people, with our minds 

THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



whole. We’ll alternate left and right 
each time we round a tree, to hold 
our straight line. We’ll come out 
somewhere.” 

“I will follow. May Morwenna 
go with us.” 

The fantastic journey wound 
over great gnarled roots and but- 
tresses fusing and intermingling un- 
til it seemed that the root-complex 
was one unthinkably vast organism 
with many trunk^soaring half-seen 
into endless darkness. Time had no 
feeling there. Space was a bubble 
of ghostly light a man could leap 
across. 

Could leap and did, over and 
over, the woman following. The 
man climbed a curiously regular, 
whitish root higher than his head 
and it writhed. Then, swaying back 
along its length, came a great ser- 
pent head ; with luminous ovoid 
eves. While the man crouched in 
horror, waving the woman back, 
the monstrous jaws gaped and the 
teeth were blunt choppers and 
grinders, weirdly human looking. 
They hit hugely into a bracket 
fungus and worried at it. Man and 
woman hurried on. 

Strength waned. The woman fell 
behind. The man turned back to 
her and the light was failing. The 
blue mold was black, the luminous 
panels more ghostly. 

“It’s night. Shall we sleep?” he 
asked. 

“It’s just come day,” the woman 
said, pointing upward. 

He looked up. Far above, where 
had been gloom, hung a pinkish- 
green, opalescent haze of light. Par- 
allel lines of tree trunks converged 
through it to be lost in nebulosity. 

71 





“Daylight overpowers the lumi- 
nous fungi,” she said. 

“We sleep, then walk again. Shall 
vve find food?’ 5 

“No. We must always go to sleep 
hungry so we will wake again.” 

They looked, until tired out, for 
a place of shelter. 

They slept, locked together in 
the cranny of a massive buttress. 
The man dreamed of his tame 
home -world. 



H E WOKE again into night- 
mare. In a twenty-foot fan- 
grove of the white fungus they 
combed handfuls of black spores out 
of gill slots. The birdshot-sized 
spores had a pleasant, nutty flavor. 

With the strength more walking. 
Use it, use it, burn the poison. Day 
faded above, and luminous night 
below came back to light the way. 
A rocky ledge and another, and 
then a shallow ravine with a black 



77 



R- M. McKENNA 




stream cascading. 'They drank and 
the man said, “We'll follow it, find 
an upland clearing." 

They heard rapid motion and 
crouched unbreathing while a 
stomper minced hv up ahead. It 
had a white cresl. 

On and on, fal is^i ici the whip for 
greater fatigue and salvation at the 
end of endurance. They passed wild 
humans. A statuesque woman with 
dull eyes and yellow hah to her 

THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DAKN 



ankles, placidly feeding. Babies big 
as four-year-old normals, by them- 
selves, grazing on finger-shaped 
fungi. An enormous human, four- 
teen feet tall, fat-enfolded, too pon- 
derous to stand even in low gravity, 
crawling through fungus beds. The 
man could not tell its sex. 

On and on, sleep and eat and 
travel and sleep, darkness above or 
darkness below, outside of time. The 
stream lost, found again, sourcing 

73 



out finally under a great rock. And 
there, lodged in a black sandbank, 
the man found a human thigh bone 
half his own height. He scoured 
off the water mold with sand. He 
was armed. 

The man walked ahead clutching 
his thigh bone, and the woman fol- 
lowed. They slept clasped together 
naked all three, man woman and 
thigh bone. 

Stampers passed them and they 
crouched in sham feeding. The man 
prayed without words, both or 
neither . And hatred grew in him. 

Snakes and giant slugs and the 
beautiful, gigantic, mindless wild 
humans, again and again, a familiar 
part of nightmare. The fat and 
truly enormous humans; and the 
man learned they had been male 
once. He remembered from far 
away where time was linear the 
voice of Grandfather Man: Some 
are beyond saving , and those they 
kill 

And a stomper passed, white 
crested, and far ahead a human 
voice cried out in wordless pain 
and protest. The man was minded 
to deviate from his line for fear of 
what they might see, but he did not. 
When they came on the boy, larger 
than the man but beardless and 
without formed muscles, the man 
looked at the tears dropping from 
the dull eyes and the blood drop- 
ping from the mutilation and killed 
him with the thigh bone. Some are 
beyond saving . And the hatred in 
him flamed to whiteness. 

On and on, day above and day 
below in recurrent clash of lights. 
A white crested stomper paused 
and looked at them, crouched apart 



and trembling. The man felt the 
deepest, most anguished fear of all 
and beneath it, hatred surged until 
his teeth ached. 

On and on. The man’s stubble 
softened into beard, his hair 
touched his ears. On and on. 

The land sloped upward and be- 
came rocky. The trees became 
smaller and wider spaced so that 
whole trunks were visible and the 
light of upper day descended. A 
patch of blue sky, then more as they 
ran shouting with gladness, and a 
bare mountain crest reared in the 
distance. 

They embraced in wild joy and 
the woman cried, “Thank you, oh 
loveliest Morwcnna!” 

“Pia, we’re human again,” Cole 
said. “We’re back in the world. And 
I love you.” 

Fearful of stompers, they moved 
rapidly away from the forest over 
steadily rising ground. The growth 
became more sparse, the ground 
more rocky, and near evening- they 
crossed a wide moorland covered 
with coarse grass and scattered 
blocks of stone. Ahead a long, low 
fault scarp bounded it and there 
they found a cave tunneled into the 
rock, too narrow for a stomper. At 
last they felt safe. Morwcnna rode 
silvery above the distant forest. 

Water trickled from the cave 
which widened inlo a squared -off 
chamber in which the water spilled 
over the rim of a basin that looked 
cut with hands. Underfoot were 
small stone cylinders of various 
lengths and as his eyes adjusted 
Cole saw that they were drill cores. 

“Prospectors made this,” be told 



74 



R. M. McKENNA 




Pia, “in the old, innocent days 
when they still hoped to find heavy 
metals/’ Then he saw the graven 
initials, T.C.B., and the date, 157 
A.S. 

They ate red berries growing in 
their dooryard, gathered grass for 
a bed and slept in a great weariness. 

Next day and the next they 
ate red berries and fleshy, purple 
ground fruits and slept, gaining 
strength. Secure in their cave mouth 
they watched stompers cross the 
moorland. When night fell they 
gazed at the bunched moons, but 
the three Maidens did not quite 
form a house and Hoggy Darn was 
still pursuing them. 

“A few days,” Pia said. 

“If this isn’t Emrys Upland, 
Arscoatc will kill us with fire mist.” 

She nodded. 

More stompers crossed the moor- 
land, some white crested. They 
moved there randomly at night and 
from the forest came a far-off 
sound of stampers singing. The 
Maidens formed a house and Hoggy 
Darn grazed the side of it before 
they fled. To south and west faint 
rose glowed in the night sky. 

“Fire mist,” Pia said. “The nights 
of harrying have begun. Oh Flinter, 
if this is really Emrys Upland it 
will be perfect.” 

“What will?” 

“You — us — oh, I can’t say yet.” 

“Secrets, Pia? Still secrets? Be- 
tween us?” 

“You’ll know soon, Flinter. I 
mustn’t spoil it.” 

The love in her eyes was tinged 
with a strangeness. She sought his 
arms and hid her face in his shoul- 
der. 



Stompers on the moorland all 
day so they dared not leave the 
cave. Flyers streaking high over- 
head, scouting. 

“Pia, I believe this is Emrys Up- 
land. I’ll help after all with the 
great killing.” 

“You will help, Flinter.” 

“Afterward I’ll take you to Bel- 
conti.” 

“We will never see Bclconti, 
Flinter.” 

The strangeness in her eyes trou- 
bled him. He could not kiss it away. 

Stompers crowding the moorland 
all night with their dancing, their 
vast singing coming to the cave 
from all round the compass. Rose 
banks distant in the night sky and 
Hoggy Darn crossing the House of 
the Maidens. Red Hoggy Darn, still 
lagging, still not catching it per- 
fectly upright. The strangeness of 
Pia. The waiting, clutching a pol- 
ished thigh bone. 

A T LAST the night when the 
-mighty war song of the stomp- 
ers went up unbearably, as the man 
had heard it that once before, and 
fire mist boiled along the distant 
mountains. Flyers shuttled across 
the sky, dropped, rose again. Blast- 
ers ripped the night with ion-pen- 
cils. Hoggy Darn gleamed redly on 
the threshold of the House of the 
Maidens that stood almost upright 
and perfect with silvery Morwenna 
at the vertex. Flyers blasted clear- 
ings in the throng of stompers, and 
grounded. Men boiled out of them, 
setting up Corbin powercasters 
here, there, another place, fighting 
as soon as their feet hit ground. 



THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



75 




The man stood up and bran- 
dished the thigh bone. 

“I must go down and fight. Wait 
here.” 

“I must go too,” the girl said 
calmly. 

“Yes, you must,” he agreed. 
“Gome along.” 

Stompers rushed by them and 
bounded over their heads and did 
not harm them. Blaster- torn stomp- 
ers fell heavily beside them, thresh- 
ing and snapping, and they were 
not touched. Men lowered weapons 
to point at the man and girl, shout- 
ing to one another out of mazed 
faces silently in the whelming music 
of the stomper chorus. Man and 
girl walked on. 

Unharmed through the forest of 
singing, leaping shapes, hand in 
hand through a screen of fighting 
men that parted to admit them, 
they walked into the light of a 
glowing Corbin where a tall, gaunt 
old man stood watching their ap- 
proach. The feeling of exalted un- 
reality began to lift from Cole. 

“Grandfather, give us blasters,” 
he shouted. “We want to fight.” 

“The power is on you, lad, and 
you only half know it,” the old man 
shouted back. “Stand here by the 
Corbin. Your fight is not yet.” 
Tears stood in the fierce old eyes. 

Across the. moorland the fighting 
raged. Islands of men and women 
grouped round their Corbins held 
back the booming, chaotic sea of 
stompers that surged against them 
from all sides. Dikes of dead and 
dying grew up, men and stompers 
mingled. The flyers shuttled down 
and up again and more islands of 
men took shape. Hoggy Darn 



crossed the threshold and the sav- 
age war song of the stompers shook 
the night sky. 

In a lull Morgan came in to the 
Corbin to change the wave track on 
his blaster. His face was a mask of 
iron joy and his eyes blazed. 

“Morgan, if we are both alive 
after, I will kill you!” Cole shouted. 

“No,” Morgan rumbled. “You 
have been into the forest and come 
out again. It took you three weeks. 
It took me three hundred years. 
Clasp hands, my brother in hatred.” 

“Yes, brother in hatred.” The 
exalted unreality began coming 
back strongly. “I want a blaster!” 
he howled at Morgan. 

“No, brother in hatred, your 
fight is not yet.” Morgan rejoined 
the battle, the ring of men stand- 
ing braced in blaster harness fifty 
yards away, ripping down with in- 
terweaving ion-pencils the great 
forms leaping inward. Man and 
girl held hands and watched. 

To the left trouble came to a 
nearby island. Stompers converged 
from all sides, abandoning the other 
attacks, impossibly many. They 
overran the defenders, attacking not 
them but the powercastcr behind 
them, and piled up until the Cor- 
bin’s blue-violet glare was hidden. 
A great blossoming of flame tore 
the pile of stompers apart, but the 
Corbin was dark. 

“They blew out the power 
banks,” Pia said. “They’ve never 
known to do that before. Now the 
men still living have only pack 
charges.” 

It was a new tactic, a death- 
hour flash of insight for Grand- 
father Stomper. Across the moor, 



76 



R. M. McKENNA 




island after island went dark and 
the war song grew in savage exulta- 
tion, but the man thought it dwin- 
dled in total volume. Then it was 
their own turn. 

Cole and Pia crouched away 
from the Corbin in the lee of a 
stone block and two still-twitching 
stompers. Beside them Morgan and 
Bidgrass fired steadily at the shapes 
hurtling above. When the Corbin 
blew, a wave of stinking heat rolled 
over them. All around, survivors 
struggled to their feet, using flame 
pistols to head-shoot wounded 
stompers, digging out and connect- 
ing emergency pack charges to their 
blasters. They wen' pitifully few 
and their new, dark island was 
thirty feet across. 

The moor seemed dark with only 
the red of flame pistols and the 
violet flickering of power pack 
blasters. It seemed to heave ran- 
domly like a sluggish sea with the 
seen struggles of dying stompers 
and the felt struggles of lesser hu- 
man bodies. Thinned now, stomp- 
ers attacked singly or in small 
groups. Blasters flickered and ripped 
and went darkly silent as power 
packs discharged. The red of short- 
range flame pistols replaced them. 
But across the fault scarp ridge the 
tumult swelled to new heights and 
Corbin after Corbin there flamed 
out of existence in a bloom of rose- 
purple against the skyline. 

In a lull Bidgrass si touted to 
Morgan, “That’s costing them 
more than they have to give, over 
there. Listen. Can you hear it?” 

“Yes, Father in Hatred,” Mor- 
gan said. “They will break soon.” 

“Yes. when Arscoalc lays the fire 

THE NIGHT OF HOGGY DARN 



mist. They will come through here. 
I have one charge left.” 

“I have two, Father in Hatred. 
Change packs with me.” 

Cole found his voice and his 
senses once more. 

“I must find a weapon! Grand- 
father, give me your flame pistol!” 
“Soon, lad. Soon now. Let the 
power take you,” the old man 
soothed. 

Stompers streamed over the moor 
again and the fighting flared up. 
The war song beat against the 
man’s ears so that he drew the girl 
nearer and shook the thigh bone. 
Blaster fire flickered out altogether 
and the red blooming of flame pis- 
tols weakened. But more and more 
stompers streamed past without at- 
tacking. Then the man saw fire mist 
plume lazily in the east, point after 
point coalescing all along the forest 
edge. 

“Now!” shouted a great voice 
beside him. “Now, lad!” 

It was old Bidgrass, striding out 
like a giant, blaster leveled in its 
carrying harness. 

The shout released Cole and he 
saw it far off, coming down the 
scrap rubble to the moor. Huger 
than any, white crest thirty feet 
above the ground, Grandfather 
Stomper. The war song roared in- 
sanely over the moor. Hoggy Darn 
gleamed heart-midst of the three 
lady moons. 

The grim old man aimed and 
fired. The great bird-shape stag- 
gered and came on, left wing trail- 
ing. The old man waited until it 
was nearly on top of him and fired 
again. The stomper jerked its head 
and the boll shattered the great tri- 



77 




part beak but did not kill it. With 
the right mitten-wing it reached 
down and swung its adversary twen- 
ty feet up, held him and haggled at 
him with its stumps of beak. 

The old man's free right arm 
flailed wildly. Cole beat the stamp- 
er's leg with the thigh bone and 
howled in hatred. Then he saw the 
flame pistol lying where it had 
fallen from the holster. He picked it 
up, but the power was on him 
again and he did not use it. He 
hurled the thigh bone at the stamp- 
er's head, diverting it for a second, 
and tossed the pistol to old Bid- 
grass. He knew they could not fail. 

The old man caught the pistol. 
When the great head swung back 
he held the muzzle against the tri- 
corn eye and fired. Red plasma-jet 
burned into the brain behind it. 
The stomper bounded once in the 
air, dropped its slayer, ran three 
steps and collapsed. 

The stomper song changed sud- 
denly. It became a mournful la- 
ment, a dying into grieving sub- 
sonics. Cole knew that note. He 
had heard it from the stompers in 
the stone-floored pen when the 
butchers were hacking off their 
heads. He knew that Grandfather 
Stomper was dead forever, after 
seven hundred years of war. 

Flyers crossed above, blasters 



were still at work across the ridge, 
but the war was ended. The power, 
whatever that sense of exalted un- 
reality might be, left Cole; and he 
felt naked and ridiculous and won- 
dered what he was doing there. 
Then he saw the girl bending above 
Garth Bidgrass and regained con- 
trol of himself. 

The strong old man was smiling 
wearily. 

“We’ve won the war, lad,” he 
said. “The next task is yours.'* 

‘Til help you,” Cole said. 

“You’ll lead. Oh, Til live, but not 
for long. Centuries ago, lad, there 
was a prophecy, and until tonight 
people like myself and Arscoate 
thought it was only poetry, however 
literally Morgan and the other ex- 
wilds took it.” 

“What was it?” 

“It foretells that on the night 
Grandfather Stomper shall die the 
new Grandfather Man will come 
naked out of the forest with his 
beautiful wife and armed with a 
thigh bone, and that he will lead 
us in the even greater task of rec- 
lamation that comes after. Your 
ritual title of address is ‘Father in 
Love/ lad, and I’m just a broken 
old man now. Take up the burden.” 

Cole’s throat swelled, choking 
speech for a moment. 

“I can start,” he said. END 



BACK ISSUES OF IF are still available — from Volume I, No. 1, March, 
1952, through October, 1958 — and may be obtained from the Circulation 
Dept, at 35 # each. But — if you subscribe to IF for 12 issues ($3.50), 
your choice of any two back issues will be mailed to you as a gift! First 
coine, first served! Write now to: IF Magazine, Kingston, New York. 



78 



R. h\. A/icKENNA 







WESTERN SCIENCE 
IS SO WONDERFUL 



The tale of a Martian and 
three Communists , told with 
tongue firmly in cheek . 



T HE MARTIAN was sitting at 
the top of a granite cJifF. In or- 
der to enjoy the breeze better he 
had taken on the shape of a small 
fir tree. The wind always felt very 
pleasant through non-deciduous 
needles. 



BY cordwainer smith 



79 




At the Ixjtlom of the dilT stood 
an American, the first tiie Martian 
had ever seen. 

The American extracted from 
his pocket a fantastically ingenious 
device. It was a small metal box 
with a nozzle which lifted up and 
produced an immediate flame. 
From this miraculous device the 
American readily lit a tube of bliss- 
diving herbs. The Martian under- 
stood that these were called ciga- 
rettes by the Americans. As the 
American finished lighting his ciga- 
rette, the Martian changed his 
shape to that of a fifteen-foot, red- 
faced, black-whiskered Chinese 
demagogue, and shouted to the 
American in English, ‘’Hello, 
friend!” 

The American looked up and al- 
most dropped his teeth. 

The Martian stepped off the clifT 
and floated gently down toward the 
American, approaching slowly so as 
not to affright him too much. 

Nevertheless, the American did 
seem to be concerned, because he 
said, “You’re not real, arc you? 
You can’t be. Or can you?” 

Modestly the Martian looked in- 
to the mind of the American and 
realized that fifteen-foot Chinese 
demagogues were not reassuring 
visual images in an everyday Amer- 
ican psychology. He peeked mod- 
estly into the mind of the Amer- 
ican, seeking a reassuring image. 
The first image he saw was that of 
the American’s mother, so the Mar- 
tian promptly changed into the 
form of the American’s mother and 
answered, “What is real, darling?” 

With this the American turned 
slightly green and put his hand over 



his eyes. The Martian looked once 
again into the mind of the Amer- 
ican and saw a slightly confused 
image. 

When the American opened his 
eyes, the Martian had taken on the 
form of a Red Cross girl halfway 
through a strip-lease act. Although 
the maneuver was designed to be 
pleasant, the American was not re- 
assured. His fear began to change 
into anger and he said. “What the 
hell arc you?" 

The Martian gave up trying to 
be obliging. He changed himself 
into a Chinese Nationalist major 
general with an Oxford education 
and said in a distinct British accent, 
“I’m by way of being one of the 
local characters, a bit on the Super- 
natural side, you know. I do hope 
you do not mind. Western science 
is so wonderful that. I had to ex- 
amine that fantastic machine you 
have in your hand. Would you like 
to chat a bit before you go on?” 

The Martian caught a confused 
glimpse of images in the American’s 
mind. They seemed to be concerned 
with something called prohibition , 
something else called “on the wag- 
on,” and the reiterated question, 
“How the hell did 1 get here?” 

Meanwhile the Martian exam- 
ined the lighter. 

He handed it back to the Amer- 
ican, who looked stunned. 

“Very fine magic,” said the 
Martian. 4 4 We do not do anything 
of that sort in these hills. I am a 
fairly low class Demon. I see that 
you are a captain in the illustrious 
army of the United States. Allow 
me to introduce myself. I am the 
1 ,387,229th Eastern Subordinate 



80 



CORDWAINER SMITH 




Incarnation of a Lohan. Do you 
have time for a chat?” 

The American looked at the 
Chinese Nationalist uniform. Then 
he looked behind him. His Chinese 
porters and interpreter lay like bun- 
dles of rags on the meadowy floor 
of the valley; they had all fainted 
dead away. The American held 
himself together long enough to 
say, “What is a Lohan?” 

“A Lohan is an Arhat,” said the 
Martian. 

The American did not take in 
this information either and the 
Martian concluded that something 
must have been missing from the 
usual amenities of getting acquaint- 
ed with American officers. Regret- 
fully the Martian erased all mem- 
ory of himself from the mind of the 
American and from the minds of 
the swooned Chinese. He planted 
himself back on the dill’ top, re- 
sumed the shape of a fir tree, and 
woke the entire gathering. He saw 
the Chinese interpreter gesticulat- 
ing at the American and he knew 
that the Chinese was saying, “There 
are Demons in these hills . . 

The Martian rather liked the 
hearty laugh with which the Amer- 
ican greeted this piece of supersti- 
tious Chinese ponsensc. 

He watched the party disappear 
as they went around lire miracu- 
lously beautiful little Lake of the 
Eight-Mouthed River. 

That was in 1945). 

The Martian spent many 
thoughtful hours trying to material- 
ize a lighter, but he never managed 
to create one which did not dis- 
solve back into some unpleasant 
primordial effluvium within hours. 



Then it was 1955. The Martian 
heard that a Soviet officer was com- 
ing, and he looked forward with 
genuine pleasure to making the ac- 
quaintance of another person from 
the miraculously up-to-date West- 
ern world. 



ETER FARRER was a vulgar 
German. 

The vulgar Germans are about 
as much Russian as the Pennsyl- 
vania Dutch are Americans. 

They have lived in Russia for 
more than two hundred years, but 
the terrible bitterness of the Second 
World War led to the breakup of 
most of their communities. 

Farrer himself had fared well in 
this. After holding the noncommis- 
sioned rank of yefreitor in the Red 
Army for some years he had become 
a sub-lieutenant. In a technikurn 
he had studied geology and survey. 

The chief of the Soviet military 
mission to the province of Yunnan 
in the People’s Republic of China 
had said to him, “Farrer, you are 
getting a real holiday. There is no 
danger in this trip, but we do want 
to get an estimate on the feasibility 
of building a secondary mountain 
highway along the rock cliffs west 
of Lake Pakou. I think well of you. 
Farrer. You have lived down your 
German name and you’re a good 
Soviet citizen and officer. I know 
that you will not cause any trouble 
with our Chinese allies or with the 
mountain people among whom you 
must travel. Go easy with them, 
Farrer. They are very superstitious. 
We need their full support, but we 
can take our time to get it. The 




WESTERN SCIENCE IS SO WONDERFUL 



81 




liberation of India is still a long 
way off, but when we must move 
to help the Indians throw off Amer- 
ican imperialism we do not want to 
have any soft areas in our rear. Do 
not push things too hard, Farrer. 
Be sure that you get a good techni- 
cal job done, but that you make 
friends with everyone other than 
imperialist reactionary elements.” 

Farrer nodded very seriously. 
“You mean, comrade Colonel, that 
I must make friends with every- 
thing?” 

“Everything,” said the colonel 
firmly. 

Farrer was young and he liked 
doing a bit of crusading on his own. 
“I’m a militant atheist, Colonel. 
Do I have to be pleasant to priests?” 

“Priests, too,” said the colonel, 
“especially priests.” 

The colonel looked sharply at 
Farrer. “You make friends with 
everything, everything except wom- 
en. You hear me, comrade? Stay 
out of trouble.” 

Farrer saluted and went back to 
his desk to make preparations for 
the trip. 

Three weeks later Farrer was 
climbing up past the small cascades 
which led to the River of the Gold- 
en Sands, the Chinshachiang, as 
the Long River or Yangtze was 
known locally. 

Beside him there trotted Party 
Secretary Kungsun. Kungsun was a 
Peking aristocrat who had joined 
the Communist Party in his youth. 
Sharp-faced, sharp-voiced, he made 
up for his aristocracy by being the 
most violent Communist in all of 
northwestern Yunnan. Though they 

82 



had only a squad of troops and a 
lot of local bearers for their sup- 
plies, they did have an officer of the 
old People’s Liberation Army to as- 
sure their military well-being and 
to keep an eye on Farrcr’s technical 
competence. Comrade Captain Li, 
roly-poly and jolly, sweated wearily 
behind them as they climbed the 
steep cliffs. 

Li called after them, “If you 
want to be heroes of labor let’s keep 
climbing, but if you are following 
sound military logistics let’s all sit 
down and drink some tea. We can’t 
possibly get to Pakouhu before 
nightfall anyhow.” 

Kungsun looked back contemptu- 
ously. The ribbon of soldiers and 
bearers reached back two hundred 
yards, making a snake of dust 
clutched to the rocky slope of the 
mountain. From this perspective he 
saw the caps of the soldiers and the 
barrels of their rifles pointing up- 
ward toward him as they climbed. 
He saw the towel-wrapped heads of 
the liberated porters and he knew 
without speaking to them that they 
were cursing him in language just 
as violent as the language with 
which they had cursed l heir capital- 
ist oppressors in days gone past. Far 
below them all the thread of the 
Chinshachiang was woven like a 
single strand of gold into the gray- 
green of the twilight valley floor. 

He spat at the army captain, “If 
you had your way about it, we’d 
still be sitting there in an inn drink- 
ing the hot tea while the men slept.” 

The captain did not take offense. 
He had seen many party secretaries 
in his day. In the New China it was 
much safer to be a captain. A few 

CORDWAINER SMITH 




i )1 the party secretaries lie had 
known had got to be very important 
men. One of them had even got to 
Peking and had been assigned a 
whole Buick to himself together 
with three Parker 51 pens. In the 
minds of the Communist bureau- 
cracy this represented a state close 
to absolute bliss. Captain Li wanted 
none of that. Two square meals a 
day and an endless succession of 
patriotic farm girls, preferably 
chubby ones, represented his view 
of a wholly liberated China. 

Farrer’ s Chinese was poor, but 
he got the intent of the argument. 
In thick but understandable man- 
darin he called, half laughing at 
them, ‘‘Come along, comrades. Wc 
may not make it to liar lake by 
nightfall, but we certainly can’t 
bivouac on this cl ill either.” He 
whistled, Ich halt ' (in Kamcraden 
through his teeth as he pulled ahead 
of Kungsun and led (he climb on 
up the mountain. 

Thus it was Fairer who first 
came over the lip of (Ik* cliff and 
met the Martian face to face. 



T HIS TIME (he Martian was 
ready. He remembered his dis- 
appointing experience with the 
American, and he did not want to 
affright his guest so as to spoil the 
social nature of the occasion. While 
Farrer had been climbing the cliff, 
the Martian had been climbing 
Farrer’ s mind, chasing in and out 
of Farrer’ s memories as happily as 
a squirrel chases around inside an 
immense oak tree. From Farrcr’s 
own mind he had extracted a great 
many pleasant memories. He had 



then hastened back Lo the top of 
the cliff and had incorporated these 
in very substantial-looking phan- 
toms. 

Farrer got halfway across the lip 
of the cliff before he realized what 
he was looking at. Two Soviet mili- 
tary trucks were parked in a tiny 
glade. Each of them had tables in 
front of it. One of the tables was 
set with a very elaborate Russian 
sakouska (the Soviet equivalent of 
a smorgasbord). The Martian 
hoped he would be able to keep 
these objects materialized while 
Farrer ate them, but he was afraid 
they might disappear each time 
Farrer swallowed them because the 
Martian was not very well ac- 
quainted with digestive processes of 
human beings and did not want to 
give his guest a violent stomach- 
ache by allowing him to deposit 
through his esophagus and into his 
stomach objects of extremely im- 
provised and uncertain chemical 
makeup. 

The first truck had a big red flag 
on it with white Russian letters 
reading “WELCOME TO THE 
HEROES OF BRYANSK.” 

The second truck was even bet- 
ter. The Martian could see that 
Farrer was very fond of women, so 
he had materialized four very pret- 
ty Soviet girls, a blonde, a bru- 
nette, a redhead, and an albino just 
to make it interesting. The Martian 
did not trust himself to make them 
all speak the correctly feminine and 
appealing forms of the Russian lan- 
guage, so having materialized them 
he set them all in lounge chairs and 
put them to sleep. He had won- 
dered what form he himself should 



WESTERN SCIENCE IS SO WONDERFUL 



83 




take and decided that it would be 
very hospitable to assume the ap- 
pearance of Mao-tze-tung. 

Farrer did not come on over the 
cliff. He stayed where he was. He 
looked at the Martian and the Mar- 
tian said, very oilily, “Gome on up. 
We are waiting for you.” 

“Who the hell are you?” barked 
Farrer. 

“I am a pro-Soviet Demon,” said 
the apparent Mr. Mao-tze-tung, 
“and these are materialized Com- 
munist hospitality arrangements. I 
hope you like them.” 

At this point both Kungsun and 
Li appeared. Li climbed up the left 
side of Farrer, Kungsun on the 
right. All three stopped, gaping. 

Kungsun recovered his wits first. 
He recognized Mao-tze-tung. He 
never passed up a chance to get ac- 
quainted with the higher command 
of the Communist Party. He said 
in a very weak, strained, incredu- 
lous voice, “Mr. Party Chairman 
Mao, I never thought that we 
would see you here in these hills, or 
are you you, and if you aren’t you, 
who are you?” 

“I am not your party chairman,” 
said the Martian. “I am merely a 
local Demon who has strong pro- 
Communist sentiments and would 
like to meet companionable people 
like yourselves.” 

At this point Li fainted and 
would have rolled back down the 
cliff knocking over soldiers and por- 
ters if the Martian had not reached 
out his left arm, concurrently 
changing the left arm into the shape 
of a python, picking up the uncon- 
scious Li and resting his body gen- 
tly against the side of the picnic 

84 



truck. The Soviet sleeping beauties 
slept on. The python turned back 
into an arm. 

Kungsun’s face had turned com- 
pletely white; since he was a pale 
and pleasant ivory color to start 
with, his whiteness had a very 
marked tinge. 

“I think this wang-pa is a count- 
er-revolutionary impostor,” he said 
weakly, “but I don’t know what to 
do about him. I am glad that the 
Chinese People’s Republic has a 
representative from the Soviet 
Union to instruct us in difficult 
party procedure.” 

Farrer snapped, “If he is a goose, 
he is a Chinese goose. He is not a 
Russian goose. You’d better not call 
him that dirty name. He seems to 
have some powers that do work. 
Look at what he did lo Li.” 

The Martian decided to show off 
his education and said very con- 
ciliatorily, “If I am a wang-pa you 
are a wang-pen” He added bright- 
ly, in the Russian language, “That’s 
an ingrate, you know. Much worse 
than an illegitimate one. Do you 
like my shape, comrade Farrer? Do 
you have a eigaretle lighter with 
you? Western science is so wonder- 
ful, I can never make very solid 
things, and you people make air- 
planes, atom bombs, and all sorts 
of refreshing entertainments of that 
kind.” 

Farrer reached into his pocket, 
groping for his lighter. 

A scream sounded behind him. 
One of the Chinese enlisted men 
had left the stopped column behind 
and had stuck his head over the 
edge of the cliff to see what was 
happening. When he saw the trucks 

CORDWAINER SMITH 




mid tiic figure of Mao-tze-tung he 
began shrieking, ‘‘There are devils 
here! There arc devils here!” 

From centuries of experience, the 
Martian knew there was no use try- 
ing to get along with the local peo- 
ple unless they were very, very 
young or very, very old. He walked 
to the edge of the cliff so that all 
the men could see him. He ex- 
panded the shape of Mao-tze-tung 
until it was thirty-five feet high. 
Then he changed himself into the 
embodiment of an ancient Chinese 
god of war with whiskers, ribbons, 
and sword tassels blowing in the 
breeze. They all fainted dead away 
as he had intended, lie packed 
them snugly against the rocks so 
that none of them would fall hack 
down the slope. Then lie look on 
the shape of a Soviet WAC — a 
rather pretty little blonde with ser- 
geant’s insignia — and re-malcrial- 
ized himself beside Fairer. 

By this point Farm had his light- 
er ouL. 

The pretty little blonde said to 
Farrer, “Do you like this shape 
better?” 

Farrer said, “I don’t believe this 
at all. 1 am a militant atheist. I 
have fought against supers! it ion all 
my life.” Farrer was twenty-four. 

The Martian said, “I don’t think 
you like me being a girl. It bothers 
you, doesn’t it?” 

“Since you do not exist you can- 
not bother me. But if you don’t 
mind could you please change your 
shape again?” 

The Martian took on the appear- 
ance of a chubby little Buddha. He 
knew this was a little impious, but 
he felt Farrer give a sigh of relief. 



Even Li seemed cheered up, now 
that die Martian had taken on a 
proper religious form. 

“Listen, you obscene demonic 
monstrosity,” snarled Kungsun. 
“this is the Chinese People’s Repub- 
lic. You have absolutely no business 
taking on supernatural images or 
conducting unatheistic activities. 
Please abolish yourself and those il- 
lusions yonder. What do you want, 
anyhow?” 

“I would like,” said the Martian 
mildly, “to become a member of the 
Chinese Communist Party.” 

Farrer and Kungsun stared at 
each other. Then they both spoke 
at once, Farrer in Russian and 
Kungsun in Chinese, “But we can’t 
let you in the Party.” 

Kungsun said, “If you’re a demon 
you don’t exist, and if you do exist 
you’re illegal.” 

The Martian smiled. “Take some 
refreshments. You may change your 
minds. Would you like a girl?” he 
said, pointing at the assorted Rus- 
sian beauties who still slept in their 
lounge chairs. 

But Kungsun and Farrer shook 
their heads. 

With a sigh the Martian dema- 
terialized the girls and replaced 
them with three striped Siberian 
tigers. The tigers approached. 

One tiger stopped cozily behind 
the Martian and sat down. The 
Martian sat on him. Said the Mar- 
tian brightly, “I like tigers to sit on. 
They’re so comfortable. Have a 
tiger.” 

Farrer and Kungsun were star- 
ing open-mouthed at their respec- 
tive tigers. The tigers yawned at 
them and stretched out. 



WESTERN SCIENCE IS SO WONDERFUL 



85 




With a tremendous effort of will 
the two young men sat down on the 
ground in front of their tigers. 
Farrer sighed, “What do you want? 
I suppose you won this trick. . . 

S AID the Martian, “Have a jug 
of wine.” 

He materialized a jug of wine and 
a porcelain cup in front of each, 
including himself. He poured him- 
self a drink and looked at them 
through shrewd, narrowed eyes. “I 
would like to learn all about West- 
ern science. You see, I am a Mar- 
tian student who was exiled here 
to become the 1,387,229th Eastern 
Subordinate Incarnation of a Lohan 
and I have been here more than 
two thousand years, and I can only 
perceive in a radius of ten leagues. 
Western science is very interesting. 
If I could, I would like to be an 
engineering student, but since I can- 
not leave this place I would like to 
join the Communist Party and have 
many visitors come to see me.” 

By this time Kungsun made up 
his mind. He was a Communist, but 
he was also a Chinese — an aristo- 
cratic Chinese and a man well 
versed in the folklore of his own 
country. Kungsun used a politely ar- 
chaic form of the Peking court dia- 
lect when he spoke again in much 
milder terms, '‘Honored, esteemed 
Demon, sir, it’s just no use at all 
your trying to get into the Com- 
munist Party. I admit it is very 
patriotic of you as a Chinese De- 
mon to want to join the progressive 
group which leads the Chinese peo- 
ple in their endless struggle against 
the vicious American imperialists. 



Even if you convinced me I don’t 
think you can convince the party 
authorities, esteemed sir. The only 
thing for you to do in our new 
Communist world of the New 
China is to become a counter-revo- 
lutionary refugee and migrate to 
capitalist territory.” 

The Martian looked hurt and 
sullen. He frowned at them as he 
sipped his wine. Behind him Li be- 
gan snoring where he slept against 
the wheel of a truck. 

Very persuasively the Martian 
began to speak: “I see, young man, 
that you’re beginning to believe in 
me. You don’t have to recognize 
me. Just believe in me a little bit. I 
am happy to see that you, Party 
Secretary Kungsun, are prepared 
to be polite. I am not a Chinese 
demon, since I was originally a 
Martian who was elected to the 
Lesser Assembly of Concord, but 
who made an inopportune remark 
and who must live on as the 1,387,- 
229th Eastern Subordinate Incarna- 
tion of a Lohan for three hundred 
thousand springs and autumns be- 
fore I can return. I expect to be 
around a very long time indeed. On 
the other hand, I would like to 
study engineering and I think it 
would be much better for me to 
become a member of the Commu- 
nist Party than to go to a strange 
place.” 

Farrer had an inspiration. Said 
he to the Martian, “I have an idea. 
Before I explain it, though, would 
you please take those damned 
trucks away and remove that sakou - 
ska? It makes my mouth water and 
Pm very sorry, but I just can’t ac- 
cept your hospitality.” 



84 



CORDWAINER SMITH 




The Martian complied with a 
wave of his hand. The trucks and 
the tables disappeared. Li had been 
leaning against a truck. His head 
went thump against the grass. He 
muttered something in his sleep 
and then resumed his snoring. The 
Martian turned back to his guests. 

Farrer picked up the thread of 
his own thoughts. “Leaving aside 
the questipn of whether you exist 
or not, I can assure you that 1 know 
the Russian Communist Parly and 
my colleague, Comrade Kungsun 
here, knows the Chinese Commu- 
nist Party. Communist: parlies are 
very wonderful things. They lead 
the masses in the fight against 
wicked Americans. Do you realize 
that if we didn’t fight on with the 
revolutionary struggle all of us 
would have to drink coca-cola every 
day?” 

“What is coca-cola?” asked the 
Demon. 

“I don’t know,” replied Farrer. 

“Then why be afraid to drink 
any?” 

“Don’t be irrelevant. I hear that 
the capitalists make everybody drink 
it. The Communist Party cannot 
take time to open up supernatural 
secretariats. It would spoil irreli- 
gious campaigns for us to have a de- 
monic secretary. I can tell you the 
Russian Communist Party won’t 
put up with it and our friend here 
will tell you there is no place in the 
Chinese Communist Party. We 
want you to be happy. You seem to 
be a very friendly demon. Why 
don’t you just go away? The capi- 
talist will welcome you. They arc 
very reactionary and very religious. 



who would believe in you.” 

The Martian changed his shape, 
from that of a roly-poly Buddha 
and assumed the appearance and 
dress of a young Chinese man, a 
student of engineering at the Uni- 
versity of the Revolution in Peking. 
In the shape of the student he con- 
tinued, “I don’t want to be believed 
in. I want to study engineering, and 
I want to learn all about Western 
science.” 

Kungsun came to Farrcr’s sup- 
port. He said, “It’s just no use try- 
ing to be a Communist engineer. 
You look like a very absent-minded 
demon to me and I think that even 
if you tried to pass yourself off as 
a human being you would keep 
forgetting and changing shapes. 
That would ruin the morale of any 
class.” 

The Martian thought to himself 
that the young man had a point 
there. He hated keeping any one 
particular shape for more than half 
an hour. Staying in one bodily form 
made him itch. He also liked to 
change sexes every few times; it 
seemed sort of refreshing. He did 
not admit to the young man that 
Kungsun had scored a point with 
that remark about shape-changing, 
but he nodded amiably at them and 
asked, “But how could I get 
abroad?” 

“Just go,” said Kungsun, wea- 
rily. “Just go. You’re a demon. You 
can do anything.” 

“I can’t do that,” snapped the 
studenl-Martian. “I have to have 
something to go by.” 

He turned to Farrer. “It won’t 
do any good, your giving me some- 
thing. If you gave me something 



You might even Find people there 

WESTERN SCIENCE IS SO WONDERFUL 



87 




Russian and I would end up in 
Russia, from what you say they 
won’t want to have a Communist 
Martian any more than these Chi- 
nese people do. I won’t like to leave 
my beautiful lake anyhow, but I 
suppose I will have to if I am to 
get acquainted with Western sci- 
ence.” 

Farrer said, “I have an idea” 
He took off his wristwatch and 
handed it to the Martian. 

The Martian inspected it. Many 
years before, the watch had been 
manufactured in the United States 
of America. It had been traded by 
a G. I. to a fraulein, by the frau- 
lein’s grandmother to a Red Army 
man for three sacks of potatoes, and 
by the Red Army man for five 
hundred rubles to Farrer when the 
two of them met in Kuibyshev. The 
numbers were painted with radium, 
as were the hands. The second 
hand was missing, so the Martian 
materialized a new one. He 
changed the shape of it several 
times before it fitted. On the watch 
there was written in English, 
“MARVIN WATCH COM- 
PANY.” At the bottom of the face 
of the watch there was the name of 
a town: “WATERBURY, CONN.” 

The Martian read it. Said he to 
Farrer, “Where is this place Water- 
bury, Kahn ? 33 

“The Conn, is the short form of 
the name of one of the American 
states. If you are going to be a re- 
actionary capitalist that is a very 
good place to be a capitalist in.” 

Still white-faced, but in a sickly 
ingratiating way, Kungsun added 
his bit. “I think you would like 
coca-cola. It’s very reactionary.” 

88 



The studcnt-Martian frowned. 
He still held the watch in his hand. 
Said he, “I don’t care whether it’s 
reactionary or not. I want to be in 
a very scientific place.” 

Farrer said, “You couldn’t go any 
place more scientific than Water- 
bury, Conn., especially Conn. — 
that’s the most scientific place they 
have in America and I’m sure they 
are very pro-lV^krtian and you can 
join one of the capitalist parties. 
They won’t mind. But the Commu- 
nist parties would make a lot of 
trouble for you.” 

Farrer smiled and his eyes lit up. 
“Furthermore,” he added, as a win- 
ning point, “you can keep my watch 
for yourself, for always.” 

The Martian frowned. Speaking 
to himself the student-Martian said, 
“I can see that Chinese Commu- 
nism is going to collapse in eight 
years, eight hundred years, or eighty 
thousand years. Perhaps I’d better 
go to this Waterbury, Conn.” 

The two young Communists 
nodded their heads vigorously and 
grinned. They both smiled at the 
Martian. 

“Honored, esteemed Martian, sir, 
please hurry along because I want 
to get my men over the edge of the 
cliff before darkness falls. Go with 
our blessing.” 

The Martian changed shape. He 
took on the image of an Arhat, a, 
subordinate disciple of Buddha. 
Eight feet tall, he loomed above 
them. His face radiated unearthly 
calm. The watch, miraculously pro- 
vided with a new strap, was firmly 
strapped to his left wrist. 

“Bless you, my boys,” said he. “I 
go to Waterbury.” And he did. 

CORDWAINER SMITH 




F ARRER stared at Kungsun. 
“What’s happened to Li?” 
Kungsun shook his head dazedly. 
“I don’t know. I feel funny.” 

(In departing for that marvelous 
strange place, Watcrbury, Conn., 
the Martian had taken with him 
all their memories of himself.) 

Kungsun walked to the edge of 
the cliff. Looking over, he saw the 
men sleeping. 

“Look at that,” he muLlercd. lie 
stepped to the edge of the dill and 
began shouting: “Wake up, you 

fools, you turtles. Haven' l you any 
more sense than to sleep on a cliff 
as nightfall approaches?" 

The Martian concentrated all his 
powers on the location of Watcr- 
bury, Conn. 

He was the 1,387, 22?)l li Eastern 
Subordinate Incarnation of a Lohan 
(or an Arhat) , and his powers were 
limited, impressive though they 
might seem to outsiders. 

With a shock, a thrill, a some- 
thing of breaking, a sense of things 
done and undone, he found himself 
in flat country. Strange darkness 
surrounded him. Air, which he had 
never smelled before, Mowed (quiet- 
ly around him. Farrer and Li, flang- 
ing on a clifF high above the Chin- 
shachiang, lay far behind him in 
the world from which he had 
broken. He remembered that he had 
left his shape behind. 

Absent-mindedly he glanced 



down at himself to see what form 
he had taken for the trip. 

He discovered that he had ar- 
rived in the form of a small, laugh- 
ing Buddha seven inches high, 
carved in yellowed ivory. 

“This will never do!” muttered 
the Martian to himself. “I must 
take on one of the local forms. . . .” 
He sensed around in his environ- 
ment, groping telepathically for in- 
teresting objects near him. 

“Aha, a milk truck.” 

Thought he, Western science is 
indeed very wonderful. Imagine a 
machine made purely for the pur- 
pose of transporting milk! 

Swiftly he transferred himself 
into a milk truck. 

In the darkness, his telepathic 
senses had not distinguished the 
metal of which the milk truck was 
made nor the color of the paint. 

In order to remain inconspicu- 
ous, he turned himself into a milk 
truck made of solid gold. Then, 
without a driver, he started up his 
own engine and began driving him- 
self down one of the main highways 
leading into Waterbury, Connecti- 
cut. ... So if you happen to be 
passing through Waterbury, Conn., 
and see a solid gold milk truck driv- 
ing itself through the streets, you’ll 
know it’s the Martian, otherwise 
the 1,387, 229th Eastern Subordi- 
nate Incarnation of a Lohan, and 
that he still thinks Western Science 
is wonderful. END 



*>OME of the finest science fiction you’ve ever read appears in The First 
World of If (20 short stories) and The Second World of If (9 novel- 
ettes). If you have not obtained your copies, you may still do so at 50tf 
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WESTERN SCIENCE IS SO WONDERFUL 89 





HALF AROUND PLUTO 



Pluto was a coffin world , airless > utterly cold. And. they 
had ten days to reach Base Camp , ten thousand miles away . 



T HEIR glassite space helmets crags and gullies, sheathed with the 

fogged, and their metal glove hard-frozen pallor that had been 

joints stiffened in the incredible Pluto’s atmosphere, cons ago. 

surface cold ; but the two men who From the wrecked cylinder of the 
could work finished their job. In scout rocket they had dragged two 

the black sky glistered the little arc- interior girders, ready-curved at the 

light of the sun, a sixteen-hun- ends. These, clamped side by side 

dredth of the blaze that fell on with transverse brackets and decked 

Earth. Around them sulked Pluto’s with bulkhead metal, managed to 



BY MANLY WADE WELLMAN 



90 




look like a. sled. 

At the real* they sel a salvaged 
engine unit. For steering, dicy 
rigged a boom shaft to warp the 
runners right or left. For cargo, 
they piled the sled with full con- 
tainers, ration boxes, the foil tent, 
what instruments they could detach 
and carry, armfuls of heat-tools, a 
crowbar, a hatchet, a few other 
items. 

Moving back from the finished 
work, one of them stumbled against 
the other. Instantly the two puffy, 
soot-black shapes were crouched, 
gloved fists up, fierce in the system's 
duskiest corner. 

Then the moment passed. War- 
ily, helmets turned toward each 
other, they went back lo the half- 
stripped wreck. 

In the still airtight control room, 
lighted by one bulb, their officer 
stirred on his bedstrip. His tunic 
had been pulled off, his broken left 
arm and collarbone set and splint- 
ed. Under a fillet of bandage, his 
gaunt young face looked pale, bui 
he had his wits back. 

“The appropriate question/ 1 he 
said, “is ‘What happened?’ ” 

The two men were removing 
their helmets. “Conked and 
crashed, sir,” said Jenks, the smaller 
one, uncovering a sallow, hollow- 
cheeked face. 

Lieutenant Wofforth sat. up. sup- 
porting himself on his sound arm. 
“How long have 1 been out?” 

“Maybe forty hours, sir. Deliri- 
ous. Corbett and me did the best 
we could. Take it easy, sir,” he said 
as Wofforth began to get up. “Lie 
back. We've done what Emergency 
Plan Six says — bolted a sled to- 

HALF AROUND PLUTO 



gclher and coupled on a sound en- 
gine unit for power.” 

“Quite a haul back to base,” said 
Wofforth, almost cheerfully. His 
eyes were bright, as though he sav- 
ored the idea. “About halfway 
around Pluto. We’d better start 
now, or they’ll get tired of waiting." 

“They’ve gone, sir,” Corbett 
growled before Jenks could gesture 
him to silence. He was beefy, slit- 
eyed. “We saw the jets going sun- 
ward this morning.” 

Wofforth winced. “Gone,” he 
said. “That's right, I didn’t stop to 
think. You said forty hours. . . . 
They couldn't wait that long. We’re 
past opposition already, getting far- 
ther away all the time. They had 
to go, or they wouldn’t have made 
it.” 

He stood up uncertainly and 
reached for his ripped tunic. Cor- 
bett stepped over and helped him 
slide his uninjured arm into the 
right sleeve, then to fasten and 
drape the tunic over his splinted 
left arm and shoulder. 

"We'll just have to get back to 
Base Camp and wait,'’ said Wof- 
ford), grimly. 

"Sir,” said Jenks, “our radio is 
gone, i tried to patch it up, but it 
was gone. When they didn’t get a 
signal, they must have thought — ” 
“Nonsense!” Wofforth broke in. 
“They'll have left us supplies. They 
couldn't wait, signal or none. Our 
job is to get back, and stick it out 
then' until they come for us.” 

He sat at the control and began 
to write in the log book. Corbett 
and Jenks drifted together at the 
other end of the room. 

“You meat-head.” snarled Jenks 

9) 




under his breath. '‘You knew he 
took the berth to Pluto because the 
first mate was a lady — Lya Strom- 
minger.” 

“He had to know they were 
gone/’ protested Corbett, equally 
fierce. 

“Not flat like you gave it. He 
came here to be with her. Now she’s 
jetted away without him. How does 
a man feel when a woman’s done 
that—” 

“Stop blathering, you two, and 
help me into my suit,” called Wof- 
forth, rising again. “We’re going to 
rev up that sled engine and get out 
of here!” 

Outside, the sled lay ready under 
the frigid sky. WofForth tramped 
around it, leaned over and poked 
the load. 

“Too much,” said his voice in 
their radios. “Keep the synthesizer, 
the tent, these two ration boxes. 
Wait, keep the crowbar and the 
hatchet. Dump the rest.” 

“We travel that light, sir?” said 
Jcnks doubtfully. 

“I’ve been figuring,” said Wof- 
forth. “We’re on the far side of 
Pluto from Base Camp. T hat makes 
ten thousand miles, more or less. 
Pluto’s day is nineteen hours and a 
minute or so, Earth time. We can 
travel only by what they humor- 
ously call daylight. And we’d bet- 
ter get there in ten days — a thou- 
sand miles every nine and a half 
hours — or maybe we won’t get 
there at all.” 

“How’s that, sir?” asked Cor- 
bett. 

“The heaters in these suits,” Wof- 
forth reminded him. “Two hun- 

92 



dred and forty hours of efficiency, 
and that’s all. Well, it’s noon. Let’s 
take off.” 

His voice shook. He was still 
weak. Jenks helped him sit on the 
two lashed ration boxes, and slung 
a mooring strap across his knees. 
Then Jenks took the steering boom, 
and Corbett bent to start the en- 
gine. 

When the arclight sun set in the 
west, they had traveled more than 
four hours over country not too 
rugged to slow them much. Dark- 
ness closed in fast while Jenks and 
Corbett pitched the pyramidal tent 
of metal foil and clamped it down 
solidly. They spread and zipped in 
the ground fabric, set up lights and 
heater inside, and began to pipe in 
thawed gases from the drifts out- 
side. 

After their scanty meal, Corbett 
and Jenks sought their bedstrips. 
on opposite sides of the tent. Wof- 
forth tended the atomic heater for 
minutes, until the sound of deep 
breathing told him that his com- 
panions were asleep. 

Then he put on his spaccsuit, 
clumsy with his single hand to close 
seams. He picked up sextant and 
telescope, and slipped out into the 
Plutonian night. 

It was as utterly black as the bot- 
tom of a pond of ink. But above 
Wofforth shone the faithful stars, in 
the constellations mapped by the 
first star-gazers of long ago. He 
made observations, checked for 
time and position. He chuckled in- 
side his helmet, as though congratu- 
lating himself. Back in the tent, he 
opened the log book and wrote: 
First day: Course due west. 



MANLY WADE WELLMAN 




Run 410 mi. J o go 9590 ini. 
approx . Supplies adcq. Spirits 
good. 

Wriggling out of his space gear, 
he lay down, asleep almost before 
his weary limbs relaxed. 

E VERYONE was awake before 
dawn. They made coffee on the 
heater, and broke out protein bis- 
cuits for breakfast. 

As the tiny sun winked into view 
over the horizon, they loaded the 
sled. Corbett slouched toward the 
idling engine at the tail of the sled. 

“No, get on amidships,” said 
WofForth. “I’ll take over engine.” 
“My job — ” began Corbett. 
“You’re relieved. Strap yourself 
on the ration boxes. That's right. 
Jcnks, steer again. Make for the 
level ahead.” 

With his right hand Wolforth 
ran a length of pliable cable around 
his waist and through a ring-bolt 
on the decking. He touched the en- 
gine controls, and they pulled away 
from camp. 

The sled coursed over great 
knoll-like swellings of the terrain, 
coated with the dull-pale frozen at- 
mosphere. Beyond, it gained speed 
on a vast flat plain, almost as 
smooth as a desert of glass. 

“What’s this big rink, Lieuten- 
ant?” asked Jenks. 

“Maybe a sea, or maybe just a 
sunken area, full of solid gases. 
Stand by the helm, I’m going to gun 
a few more M. P. H. out of her.” 
“No winfl,” grunted Corbett. 
“Nothing moving except us. The 
floor of hell.” 

“If you was in hell, the rest of 
HALF AROUND PLUTO 



ns would be better olf,” said Jenks 
sourly. 

Wofforth began to sing, though 
he did not fed like it: 

Trim your nails and scrape 
your face , 

They're all on the Other Side 
of space! 

' Tokyo — Baltimore , Maryland — 
Hong Kong — Paris — Samar- 
kand — 

Tokyo — London — T roy — For t 
Worth — 

The happy towns of the Planet 
Earth. . . . 

At camp that night he wrote in 
the log book: 

Second Day: Course due 
west. Run 1014 mi. To go 
8576 mi. approx. Supplies 
adeq. Spirits fair. . . . 

“What’s for supper?” bawled 
Corbett, entering. “I could eat a 
horse.” 

“That’d be cannibalism,” said 
Jenks at once. 

“Yah. you splinter! Don’t cat any 
lizards, then.” 

Spirits good , Wofforth corrected 
his entry, and closed the log book, 
lie thought of Lva Strommingcr. 
She was a most efficient officer. Her 
hair was black as night on Pluto, 
and her eves as bright as the far- 
away sun. 

Wofforth wrote in his log book: 
Fifth day: Course north , 

west, then southwest. Curving 
thru mountainous territory. 
Run 1066 mi. but direct prog- 
ress toward base camp not ex- 
ceeding 950. To go, 6260 mi. 
approx. Supplies short. Spirits 
fair. 




lie wrote in his log book : 

Seventh day : Course west y 
southwest, west , northwest , 

west . Run 1108 mi. To go 
4090 mi. approx . Supplies low . 
Spirits fair. 

He wrote in his log book : 

Ninth day: Course north - 
west by west , west. Run 1108 
mi. To go 2030 mi. approx. 
Supplies low. Spirits low. . . . 
“Lieutenant,” said Jenks from 
across the tent, as WofTorth closed 
the book. 

“Well?” 

“We know you’re in command. 
This party and all of Pluto. But we 
ask permission to state our case.” 
“What case is your case?” de- 
manded WofTorth, rising. “I’m do- 
ing my best to get you back to Base 
Gamp.” 

“Sure,” said Corbett. “Sure. But 
why Base Camp?” 

“You know why.” 

“That’s right, we know why,” 
agreed Jenks, and Corbett grinned 
in his ten days’ tussock of beard. 

“They’ll have left supplies for 
us,” WofTorth went on. “Shelter and 
food and fuel and instruments. 
They’ 11 expect us to reach Base 
Camp and hold it down for the 
next attempt to reach Pluto.” 

“We know why,” repeated Jenks. 
“And that’s not why, lieutenant. 
Let me talk, sir. It’s a dead man 
talking.” 

“You won’t die,” snapped Wof- 
forth. “I’ll get you both there 
alive.” 

He stepped to where, in one cor- 
ner, he had managed a bath — a 
hollow in the frozen ground, lined 
by pushing the floor fabric into it. 

94 



From the heater he ran tepid, clean 
w£ter into it. He clipped a mirror 
to the tent foil, searched out an 
automatic razor, and began to shave 
his own dark young thatch of 
beard. 

“You’re proving my point, lieu- 
tenant,” said Jenks. “Policing up 
your face to look pretty.” 

“Why not?” growled WofTorth, 
mowing another swath of whiskers. 

“No reason why not. Ten, twen- 
ty years from now they’ll find your 
body — whenever the inner orbits 
get to where they can boom off an- 
other expedition. You’ll look young 
and clean-shaved. You know who’ll 
weep.” 

WofTorth lowered the razor in his 
good hand and glared at the two. 
They grinned in the bright light 
opposite him. They looked as if 
they hoped he’d see the joke. 

“I said it’s a dying man that’s 
talking,” said Jenks again. “Won’t 
you let me say my dying say, lieu- 
tenant? Let’s all die honest.” 

“I’m going to get you there,” 
WofTorth insisted. 

“Ah, now,” said Corbett, as 
though persuading a naughty child. 
“You think they’ve left twenty 
years’ worth of supplies to keep us 
going? The ship didn’t carry that 
much, even if they left it all.” He 
grinned mirthlessly. “I can figure 
what you’re figuring, lieutenant,” 
he went on, with a touch of Jenks’ 
sly manner. “You die, young and 
brave. You’ll shave up again before 
you lie down and let go. And when 
the next shipload arrives there’ll be 
you, lying like a statue of your 
good-looking young self, frozen stiff. 
Am I right?” 

MANLY WADE WELLMAN 




Corbett was right, WofTorth ad- 
mitted to himself. The man was 
more than a great meaty lump, after 
all, to see another man’s unspoken 
thought so clearly. 

“Then,” Jcnks took it up, “First 
Mate Lya Slromminger will have a 
look. She may command the new 
expedition. She’ll be promoted away 
up to Admiral or higher — twenty 
years of brilliant service — gone gray 
around the edges, but still a lovely 
lady. There you’ll lie before her 
eyes, young and brave as you was 
when she deserted you. She’ll cry, 
won’t she? And hot tears can’t thaw 
you out or wake you up — ” 

“Shut your heads, both of you!” 
shouted WofTorth, so fierce and 
loud that the foil tent wall vibrated 
as with a gale in the airless night. 

But they had guessed true. He’d 
wanted to be found at Base* Camp. 
He’d wanted Lya Stromininger to 
know, some day, that she’d blasted 
ofT and left behind the man most 
worthy of all men on all worlds. . . . 

“Everybody takes a hot bath to- 
night,” said Wofiorth. “We’ll all 
sleep better for it. Tomorrow’s our 
last day on the trail.” 

“To do two thousand miles?” 
said jcnks. 

“To do all of that. The expedi- 
tion mapped an area at least that 
wide around Base Camp, and it’s 
slick and smooth. We can almost 
slide in.” 

“All slick and smooth but just 
this side of Base Camp, lieutenant,” 
said Jenks. f 

“How do you mean?” 

“That string of craters. Don’t 
you remember? It’s just this side — 
east of Base Camp. This sled’ll 



never go over that, sir.” 

“Nor around,” Corbett put in. 
“We’d have to detour maybe three 
thousand miles. And the heaters in 
our suits won’t last.” 

“I know about the craters,” said 
Wofiorth. “We ll take care of them 
when we reach them.” 

Stripping, he lowered his body 
into the makeshift tub and began 
to scrub himself one-handed. 



H E WAKENED in the morning 
to the sound of furious argu- 
ment. 

Corbett and Jenks, of course. A 
trifle — division of the breakfast ra- 
tion, or of the breakfast chores — 
had set ofT their nerves like trains 
of explosive. Even as WofTorth rose 
from his beds trip, Corbett swung a 
cobble-like fist at Jenks’ gaunt, 
grimacing face. The nimbler, 
smaller man ducked and sidled 
away. Corbett took a lumbering 
step to close in on his enemy, and 
Jcnks darted a hand to his belt be- 
hind, then brought it forward again 
with an elcctro-automatic pistol. 

“I've been keeping this for you!” 
Jenks shrilled. “I’ll just diminish 
the population of Pluto by thirty- 
three and one- third percent!” 
“Hold it!” bellowed Wofiorth. 

I le was too late. A stream of bul- 
lets chattered through Corbett’s 
body, folding him over and ripping 
through the paper-thin wall of the 
tent. Air whistled out; the tent be- 
gan to collapse. 

Jenks, pinned under Corbett’s 
body, was squealing like a pig. 
“Lieutenant, help me — !” 

Wofiorth saw in an instant that 

95 



HALF AROUND PLUTO 




the wall could not be patched in 
time; the bullets had tom loose an 
irregular strip, pressure had done 
the rest: even now, the tent was 
only a few seconds away from com- 
plete collapse. As he stumbled across 
the floor toward the spacesuits, his 
heart was laboring and his chest 
straining for breath. Spots swam in 
front of his eyes. He found the top- 
most spacesuit by touch, and fum- 
bled for the helmet. The tent 
drifted down on his head in soft, 
murderous folds. He opened the 
valve, shoved his face into the hel- 
met, and gulped precious oxygen. 
His dulled awareness brightened 
again, momentarily ; but he knew he 
was still a dead man unless he could 
get into the suit before pressure 
fell completely. Numbed fingers 
plucked at the suit opening. Some- 
how he got the awkward garment 
over his legs, closed and locked the 
torso, pulled down the helmet. . . . 

He was lying in darkness, with a 
low, steady hiss of oxygen in his 
ears. He rolled over weakly, got to 
his feet. He turned on his helmet 
light. He was propping up a gray 
cave of metal foil, that fell in stiff 
creases all around him. At his feet 
were the bodies of Jenks and Cor- 
bett. Both were dead. 

After a while, clumsily, painfully, 
he dragged the two corpses free of 
the tent. He found the heater and 
thawed a hole in the frozen surface, 
big enough for both. He tumbled 
them in, then undercut the edges 
of the hole with the heater, so that 
chunks fell in and covered them. 
While he watched, the cloud of 
vapor he had made began to settle, 
slowly congealing on the broken 



surface and blurring it over again. 
In a year, there would be no mark 
here to show that the surface had 
been disturbed. In a thousand years, 
it would still be the same. 

In the first ray of dawn he flung 
all supplies from the sled except 
the fuel containers. He checked the 
engine, and started it. 

Into his belt-bag he thrust the 
log book. Nothing else went aboard 
the sled — no food, no water con- 
tainer, no tools, instruments or 
oxygen tanks. The tent he left lying 
there, with all that had been car- 
ried inside the night before. 

As the sun rose clear of the dis- 
tant rim of the plain to eastward, 
he rigged a line to the steering 
boom, then lashed himself securely 
within reach of the engine. Steer- 
ing by the taut line, he started west- 
ward, slowly at first, then faster. It 
was as he had hoped. The lightened 
sled attained and held a greater 
speed than on any previous day. 

‘Til make it , 55 he said aloud, with 
nobody else to listen on all Pluto. 
C TU make it!” 

Faster he urged the engine’s 
rhythm, and faster. He clocked its 
speed by the indicators on the hous- 
ing. A hundred and fifty miles an 
hour. A hundred and sixty; not 
enough. Whipping the boom line 
tight around his waist to hold his 
course steady, he sighted between 
the upcurve of the runner forward. 
There was level, smooth-frozen 
country, mile upon mile. He 
speeded up to one hundred and 
seventy-five miles an hour. More. 
The sled hummed at every joining. 

At noon, he had done a good 
thousand miles. At mid-afternoon, 



96 



MANLY WADE WELLMAN 




sixteen hundred. Two and a half 
hours of visibility lelt, and more 
than four hundred miles to go. 

“I can do those on my head,” 
muttered WofTorth to himself, and 
then, far in ihc distance, the flat 
rim of the horizon was flat no 
longer. 

It had sprung up jagged, full of 
points and bulges. Speeding toward 
it, he steered by the line around his 
waist while he cut his engine. He 
caine close at fifty miles an hour, 
almost a crawl. 

Some ancient volcanic action had 
thrown up those mountains, like a 
rank of close-drawn sentries. The 
sled could not cross them anywhere. 
Still reducing speed, WofTorth drew 
close to a notch, hut the notch gave 
into a crater, a great shallow saucer 
two miles in diameter and filled 
with shadows below, so that Wof- 
forth could not gauge its depth. 
Opposite, another notch — perhaps 
once the crater had been a lake, 
with water running in and out. If 
he had come there at noon, he could 
have seen the bottom, and per- 
haps — 

“But it isn’t noon.” WofTorth was 
talking to himself again. His voice 
sounded thin and petulant in his 
own ears. “By noon tomorrow, the 
heat will be out of this suit.” 

He stopped the sled, unlashed 
himself and trudged to the notch. 
He stood in it, looking down, then 
across. 

The little bright jewel <^f the sun, 
sagging toward the horizon, showed 
him the upper reaches of the cra- 
ter’s interior, pitched at an angle 
of perhaps fifty degrees. 

Even if it had been noon, it 



would have been no use. The sled 
could nevei climb a slope like that. 

Then he looked again, this way 
and that. He nodded inside his 
helmet. 

He might as well try. 

Returning to the sled, he started 
the engine and lashed himself fast 
again. He steered away from the 
crater, and around. He made a 
great looping journey of twenty 
miles or so across the plain, build- 
ing speed all the time. 

As he rounded the rear curve of 
his course, he was driving along at 
two hundred and sixty miles an 
hour, and he had to apply pressure 
to the boom with both hand and 
knees to point the sled back straight 
for the notch. Straightening his 
humming vehicle into a headlong 
course, he leaned forward and 
sighted between the upeurved run- 
ners. 

“Now!” he urged himself, and 
watched the break in the crater 
wall rush towar dhirn. 

It greatened, yawned. He leaped 
through, and with a groaning gasp 
of prayer he dragged the boom 
over to steer the sled right. 

I T WORKED, as he had not 
dared hope. The runners 
bounced, bit. Then he was racing 
around the inside of the great cup’s 
rim, like a hurtling bubble on the 
inner surface of a whirlpool’s fun- 
nel. Two miles across, three miles 
and more on the half diameter — 
the engine laboring up to three hun- 
dred miles an hour, centrifugal force 
holding it there — 

Little more than thirty seconds 



HALF AROUND PLUTO 



97 




raced by when he knew he had 
won. He saw the far notch growing 
near. He came to it in a last boom- 
ing rush, and hurled his whole 
weight against the boom to face the 
runners into the notch. 

Under the low-dropping sun, he 
and his sled shot into open country 
beyond the range. 

His right arm felt dead from 
shoulder to fingertip. His head 
roared and drummed with the rac- 
ing of his blood. His face had tired 
spots in it, where muscles he had 
never used before had locked into 
an agonized grimace. 

On he sped, straight west, gasp- 
ing and gurgling and mumbling in 
crazy triumph. 

An hour, an anticlimactic hour 
wherein the sled almost steered it- 
self over the smoothest of plain, and 
up ahead he spied the black outline 
of Base Camp. 

It was a sprawling, low structure, 
prefabricated metal and plastic and 
insulation, black outside to gather 
what heat might come from outer 
space. It held aloof on the dull 
frozen plain from the irregular stain 
where the expedition ship had 
braked off with one set of rockets 
and had soared away with another 
set. Larger, more familiar, grew 
Base Camp with each second of 
approach. Shakily Wofforth cut his 
engine, slowed from high speed to 
medium, to a hundred miles an 
hour, to sixty, to fifty. He made a 
final circle around Base Camp, 
and let it coast in with the engine 
off, to within twenty yards of the 
main lock panel. 

He got up, on legs that shook in- 
side his boots. He felt his heart still 

98 



racing, his head still ringing. He 
sighed once, and walked close, his 
gauntlet fumbling at the release 
button on the lock panel. 

But the button did not respond. 

“Jammed,” he said. “No — 
locked . 55 

He couldn’t get in. He had 
reached Base Camp, but he could 
not get in. They hadn’t counted on 
his return. They’d gone off and left 
Base Camp locked up. 

He sagged against the lock panel, 
and cursed once, with an utter and 
furious resignation. 

He felt himself slipping. He was 
going to faint. His legs would not 
hold him up. He was slipping for- 
ward — seemed to be sinking into 
the massive and unyielding outer 
surface of Base Camp. It was a 
dream. Or it was death. 

He did not lose all hold on his 
awareness. He had a sense of lying 
at full length, and blinding light 
flashes that made his eyelids jump. 
And a tug somewhere, as though his 
helmet was corning off. He would 
have put out a hand to see, but his 
left arm was broken, and his right 
arm limp from weariness. 

“You’re back,” said a voice he 
knew, a voice strained with wonder. 
“You managed. I knew you would.” 

“Now,” said Wofforth, “I know 
it’s a dream. We dream after we 
die.” 

A hand was cupped behind his 
neck, lifting him to a sitting posi- 
tion. He felt warm fluid at his lips. 
“It’s no dream,” said the voice be- 
seechingly. “Look at me.” 

“I don’t dare. The dream will go 
away.” 

(Continued on page 116) 

MANLY WADE WELLMAN 




“ First the E-bomb , in which the Earth itself reaches crit- 
ical mass and explodes. Then the S-bomb> to wreck 
the Sun — then the G-bomb, and then . . 




BY PHILLIP K. DICK 



L EMUEL clung to the wall of 
his dark bedroom, tense, listen- 
ing. A faint breeze stirred the lace 
curtains. Yellow street- light filtered 
over the bed, the dresser, the books 
and toys and dollies. 

In the next room, two voices 
were murmuring together. “Jean, 
we’ve got to do something,” the 



man’s voice said. 

A strangled gasp. “Ralph, please 
don't hurt him. You must control 
yourself. I won’t let you hurt him.” 

“I’m not going to hurt him.” 
There was brute anguish in the 
man’s wliisper. “Why does he do 
these things? Why doesn’t he play 
baseball and tag like normal boys? 



99 



Why does he have to burn down 
stores and torture helpless animals? 
Why?” 

“He’s different, Ralph. We must 
try to understand.” 

“Maybe we better take him to 
the doctor,” his father said. “May- 
be he’s got some kind of glandular 
disease.” 

“You mean old Doc Grady? But 
you said he couldn’t find — ” 

“Not Doc Grady. He quit after 
Lemuel destroyed his x-ray equip- 
ment and smashed all the furniture 
in his office. No, this is bigger than 
that.” A tense pause. “Jean, I’m 
taking him up to the Hill.” 

“Oh, Ralph! Please—” 

“I mean it.” Grim determination, 
the harsh growl of a trapped ani- 
mal. “Those psychologists may be 
able to do something. Maybe they 
can help him. Maybe not.” 

“But they might not let us have 
him back. And oh, Ralph, he’s all 
we’ve got!” 

“Sure,” Ralph muttered hoarse- 
ly. “I know he is. But I’ve made up 
my mind. That day he slashed his 
teacher with a knife and leaped out 
the window. That day I made up 
my mind. Lemuel is going up to 
the Hill. . . ” 

The day was warm and bright. 
Between the swaying trees the huge 
white hospital sparkled, all concrete 
and steel and plastic. Ralph Jorgen- 
son peered about uncertainly, hat 
twisted between his fingers, sub- 
dued by the immensity of the place. 

Lemuel listened intently. Strain- 
ing his big, mobile ears, he could 
hear many voices, a shifting sea of 
voices that surged around him. The 



voices came from all the rooms and 
offices, on all the levels. They ex- 
cited him. 

Dr. James North came toward 
them, holding out his hand. He was 
tall and handsome, perhaps thirty, 
with brown hair and black horn- 
rimmed glasses. His stride was firm, 
his grip, when he shook hands with 
Lemuel, brief and confident. “Come 
in here,” he boomed. Ralph moved 
toward the office, but Dr. North 
shook his head. “Not you. The boy. 
Lemuel and I are going to have a 
talk alone.” 

Excited, Lemuel followed Dr. 
North into his office. North quickly 
secured the door with triple mag- 
netic locks. “You can call me 
James,” he said, smiling warmly at 
the boy. “And I’ll call you Lem, 
right?” 

“Sure,” Lemuel said guardedly. 
He felt no hostility emanating from 
the man, but he had learned to 
keep his guard up. He had to be 
careful, even with this friendly, 
good-looking doctor, a man of ob- 
vious intellectual ability. 

North lit a cigarette and studied 
the boy. “When you tied up and 
then dissected those old derelicts,” 
he said thoughtfully, “you were 
scientifically curious, weren’t you? 
You wanted to know — facts, not 
opinions. You wanted to find out 
for yourself how human beings were 
constructed.” 

Lemuel’s excitement grew. “But 
no one understood.” 

“No.” North shook his head. 
“No, they wouldn’t. Do you know 
why?” 

“I think so.” 

North paced back and forth. “I’ll 
PHILLIP K. DICK 



100 




give you a few tests. To find out 
things. You don’t mind, do you? 
We’ll both learn more about you. 
I’ve been studying you, Lem. I’ve 
examined the police records and the 
newspaper files.” Abruptly, he 
opened the drawer of his desk and 
got out the Minnesota Multiphasic, 
the Rorschach blots, the Bender 
Gestalt, the Rhine deck of ESP 
cards, an oujja board, a pair of 
dice, a magic writing tablet, a wax 
doll with fingernail parings and bits 
of hair, and a small piece of lead 
to be turned into gold. 

“What do you want me to do?” 
Lemuel asked. 

“I’m going to ask you a few 
questions, and give you a few ob- 
jects to play with. I’ll watch your 
reactions, note down a few things. 
How's that sound?” 

Lemuel hesitated. He needed a 
friend so badly — but be was afraid. 

*( j jj 

Dr. North put his hand on the 
boy’s shoulder. “You can trust me. 
I’m not like those kids that beat you 
up, that morning.” 

Lemuel glanced up gratefully. 
“You know about that? 1 discov- 
ered the rules of their game were 
purely arbitrary. Therefore I natu- 
rally oriented myself to the basic 
reality of the situation, and when 
I came up at bat I lilt the pitcher 
and the catcher over the head. 
Later I discovered that all human 
ethics and morals are exactly the 
same sort of — ” He broke off, sud- 
denly afraid. “Maybe I — ” 

Dr. North sat down behind his 
desk and began shuffling the Rhine 
ESP deck. “Don’t worry, Lem,” he 

NULL-0 



said softly. “Everything will be all 
right. I understand.” 



A FTER the tests, the two of them 
sat in silence. It was six o’clock, 
and the sun was beginning to set 
outside. At last Dr. North spoke. 

“Incredible. I can scarcely be- 
lieve it, myself. You’re utterly logi- 
cal. You’ve completely cast off all 
thalamic emotion. Your mind is 
totally free of moral and cultural 
bias. You’re a perfect paranoid, 
without any empathic ability what- 
ever. You’re utterly incapable of 
feeling sorrow or pity or compas- 
sion, or any of the normal human 
emotions.” 

Lemuel nodded. “True.” 

Dr. North leaned back, dazed. 
“It’s hard even for me to grasp this. 
It’s overwhelming. You possess su- 
per-logic, completely free of value- 
orientation bias. And you conceive 
of the entire world as organized 
against you.” 

“Yes.” 

“Of course. You’ve analyzed the 
structure of human activity and 
1 seen that as soon as they find out, 
they’ll pounce on you and try to 
destroy you.” 

“Because I’m different.” 

North was overcome. “They’ve 
always classed paranoia as a mental 
illness, but it isn’t! There’s no lack 
of coni act with reality — on the con- 
trary, the paranoid is directly re- 
lated to reality. He’s a perfect em- 
piricist. Not cluttered with ethical 
and moral-cultural inhibitions. The 
paranoid sees things as they really 
arc; he’s actually the only sane 
man.” 



101 




“I’ve been reading Mein 
Karri [if ” Lemuel said. “It shows 
me I’m not alone.” And in his mind 
he breathed the silent prayer of 
thanks: Not alone. Us. There are 
more of us. 

Dr. North caught his expression. 
“The wave of the future/’ he said. 
‘Tm not a part of it, but I can try 
to understand. I can appreciate 
I’m just a human being, limited by 
my thalamic emotional and cultural 
bias. I can’t be one of you, but I 
can sympathize. . . He looked 
up, face alight with enthusiasm. 
“And I can help!” 

The next days were filled with 
excitement for Lemuel. Dr. North 
arranged for custody of him, and 
the boy took up residence at the 
doctor’s uptown apartment. Here, 
he was no longer under pressure 
from his family; he could do as he 
pleased. Dr. North began at once 
to aid Lemuel in locating other mu- 
tant paranoids. 

One evening after dinner, Dr. 
North asked, “Lemuel, do you think 
you could explain your theory of 
Null-O to me? It’s hard to grasp 
the principle of non-object orienta- 
tion.” 

Lemuel indicated the apartment 
with a wave of his head. “All these 
apparent objects — each has a name. 
Book, chair, couch, rug, lamp, 
drapes, window, door, wall, and so 
on. But this division into objects is 
purely artificial. Based on an apti- 
quated system of thought. In reality 
there are no objects. The universe 
is actually a unity. We have been 
taught to think in terms of objects. 
This thing , that thing. When Null- 



O is realized, this purely verbal di- 
vision will cease. It has long since 
outlived its usefulness.” 

“Gan you give me an example, a 
demonstration?” 

Lemuel hesitated. “It’s hard to 
do alone. Later on, when we’ve 
contacted others ... I can do it 
crudely, on a small scale.” 

As Dr. North watched intently, 
Lemuel rushed about the apart- 
ment gathering everything together 
in a heap. Then, when ail the 
books, pictures, rugs, drapes, furni- 
ture and bric-a-brac had been col- 
lected, he systematically smashed 
everything into a shapeless mass. 

“You see,” he said, exhausted 
and pale from the violent effort 
“the distinction into arbitrary ob- 
jects is now gone. This unification 
of things into their basic homo- 
geneity can be applied to the uni- 
verse as a whole. The universe is a 
gestalt, a unified substance, with- 
out division into living and non- 
living, being and non-being. A vast 
vortex of energy, not discrete par- 
ticles! Underlying the purely arti- 
ficial appearance of material ob- 
jects lies the world of reality: a vast 
undifferentiated realm of pure en- 
ergy. Remember: the object is not 
the reality. First law of Null-O 
thought!” 

Dr. North was solemn, deeply 
impressed. He kicked at a bit of 
broken chair, part of the shapeless 
heap of wood and cloth and paper 
and shattered glass. “Do you think 
this restoration to reality can be ac- 
complished?” 

“I don’t know,” Lemuel said sim- 
ply. “There will be opposition, of 
course. Human beings will fight us; 

PHILLIP K. DICK 



102 




they’re incapable of rising above 
their monkey-like preoccupation 
with things — bright objects they can 
touch and possess. It will all de- 
pend on how well wc can coordi- 
nate with each other.” 

Dr. North unfolded a slip of pa- 
per from his pocket. “I have a 
lead,” he said quietly. ‘The name 
of a man I think is one of you. 
We’ll visit him tomorrow — then 
we’ll see.” 



D R. JACOB WELLER greeted 
them with brisk elTieiency, at 
the entrance of bis well-guarded 
lab overlooking Palo Alto. Rows of 
uniformed government guards pro- 
tected the vital work lie was doing, 
the immense system of labs and re- 
search offices. Men and women in 
white robes were working day and 
night. 

“My work,” lie explained, as he 
signaled for the heavy-duty en- 
trance locks to be closed behind 
them, “was basic, in the develop- 
ment of the C-borrib, the cobalt 
case for the H-bomb. You will find 
that many top nuclear physicists 
are Null-O.” 

Lemuel’s breath caught. “Then 



“Of course.” Weller wasted no 
words. “We’ve been working for 
years. Rockets at Pecnemundc, the 
A-bomb at Los Alamos, the hydro- 
gen bomb, and now this, the C- 
bomb. There are, of course, many 
scientists who are not Null-O, regu- 
lar human beings with thalamic 
bias. Einstein, for example. But 
we’re well on the way; unless too 
much opposition is encountered 

NULL-0 



we’ll be able to go into action very 
shortly.” 

The rear door of the laboratory 
slid aside, and a group of white- 
clad men and women filed solemnly 
in. Lemuel’s heart gave a jump. 
Here they were, full-fledged adult 
Null-O’s! Men and women both, 
and they had been working for 
years! He recognized them easily; 
all had the elongated and mobile 
ears, by which the m-utant Null-O 
picked up minute air vibrations over 
great distances. It enabled him to 
communicate, wherever they were, 
throughout the world. 

“Explain our program,” Weller 
said to a small blond man who 
stood beside him, calm and col- 
lected, face stern with the impor- 
tance of the moment. 

“The G-bomb is almost ready,” 
the man said quietly, with a slight 
German accent. “But it is not the 
final step in our plans. There is also 
the E-bomb, which is the ultimate 
of this initial phase. Wc have never 
made the E-bomb public. If human 
beings should find out about it, we 
should have to cope with serious 
emotional opposition.” 

“Wliat is the E-bomb?” Lemuel 
asked, glowing with excitement. 

“The phrase, ‘the E-bomb,’ ” said 
the small blond mAi, “describes the 
process by which the Earth itself 
heroines a pile, is brought up to 
critical mass, and then allowed to 
detonate.” 

Lemuel was overcome. “I had 
no idea you had developed the plan 
this far!” 

The blond man smiled faintly. 
“Yes, we have done a lot, since the 
early days. Under Dr. Rust, I was 

103 




able to work out the basic ideologi- 
cal concepts of our program. Ulti- 
mately. we will unify the entire uni- 
verse into a homogeneous mass. 
Right now, however, our concern 
is with the Earth. But once we have 
been successful here, there’s no rea- 
son why we can’t continue our work 
indefinitely.” 

'‘Transportation,” Weller ex- 
plained, “has been arranged to 
other planets. Dr. Frisch here — ” 

“A modification of the guided 
missiles we developed at Peene- 
miinde,” the blond man continued. 
“We have constructed a ship which 
will take us to Venus. There, we 
will initiate the second phase of our 
work. A V-bornb will he developed, 
which will restore Venus to its 
primordial state of homogeneous 
energy. And then — ” He smiled 
faintly. “And then an S-bomb. The 
Sol bomb. Which will, if we are 
successful, unify this whole system 
of planets and moons into a vast 
gestalt.” 

By June 25, 1969, Null-O per- 
sonnel had gained virtual control 
of all major world governments. 
The process, begun in the middle 
thirties, was for all practical pur- 
poses complete. The United States 
and Soviet Russia, were firmly in the 
bands of Null-O individuals. Null- 
O men controlled all policy-level 
positions, and hence, could speed 
up the program of Null-O. The 
time had come. Secrecy was no 
longer necessary. 

Lemuel and Dr. North watched 
from a circling rocket as the first 
H-bombs were detonated. By care- 
ful arrangement, both nations be- 



gan H-bomb attack simultaneously. 
Within an hour, class-one results 
were obtained; most of North 
America and Eastern Europe were 
gone. Vast clouds of radioactive 
particles drifted and billowed. 
Fused pits of rnctal bubbled and 
sputtered as far as the eye could 
see. In Africa, Asia, on endless is- 
lands and out-of-the-way places, 
surviving human beings cowered in 
terror. 

“Perfect,” came Dr. Weller’s 
voice in Lemuel’s ears. He was 
somewhere below the surface, down 
in the carefully protected headquar- 
ters where the Venus ship was in its 
last stages of assembly. 

Lemuel agreed. “Great work. 
We’ve managed to unify at least a 
fifth of the world’s land surface!” 

“But there’s more to come. Next 
the C-bombs are to be released. 
This will prevent human beings 
from interfering with our final 
work, the E-bomb installations. The 
terminals must still be erected. That 
can’t be done as long as humans 
remain to interfere.” 

Within a week, the first C-bomb 
was set off. More followed, hurtled 
up from carefully concealed launch- 
ers in Russia and America. 

By August 5, 1969, the human 
population of the world had been 
diminished to three thousand. The 
Null-O’s, in their subsurface offices, 
glowed with satisfaction. Unifica- 
tion was proceeding exactly as 
planned. The dream was coming 
true. 

“Now,” said Dr. Weller, “we 
can begin erection of the E-bomb 
terminals.” 



104 



PHILLIP K. DICK 




O NE terminal was begun at 
Arequipa, Peru. The other, at 
the opposite side of the globe, at 
Bandoeng, Java. Within a month 
the two immense towers rose high 
against the dust-swept sky. In 
heavy protective suits and helmets, 
the two colonies of Null-O’s worked 
day and night to complete the pro- 
gram. 

Dr. Weller flew Lemuel to the 
Peruvian installation. AH the way 
from San Francisco to Lima there 1 
was nothing but rolling asli and 
still-burning metallic fires. No sign 
of life or separate entities: every- 
thing had been fused into a single 
mass of heaving slag. The oceans 
themselves were steam and boiling 
water. All distinction between land 
and sea had been lost. The surface 
of the Earth was a single expanse 
of dull gray and white, where blue 
oceans and green forests, roads and 
cities and fields had once been. 

‘There/ 5 Dr. Weller said. “See 
it? 55 

Lemuel saw it, all right. Ilis 
breath caught in his throat, at its 
sheer beauty. The Null-O’s had 
erected a vast bubble-shield, a 
sphere of transparent plastic amidst 
the rolling sea of liquid slag. With- 
in the bubble the terminal itself 
could be seen, an intricate wch of 
flashing metal and wires that made 
both Dr. Weller and Lemuel fall 
silent. 

“You see/ 5 Weller explained, as 
he dropped the rocket through the 
locks of the shield, “we have only 
unified the surface of the Earth and 
perhaps a mile of rock beneath. 
The vast mass of the planet, how- 
ever, is unchanged. But the E-bomb 

NULL-0 



will handle that. The still-liquid 
core of the planet will erupt; the 
whole sphere will become a new 
sun. And when the S-bomb goes 
off, the entire system will become 
a unified mass of fiery gas.” 

Lemuel nodded. “Logical. And 
then—” 

“The G-bomb. The galaxy itself 
is next. The final stages of the 
plan. ... So vast, so awesome, we 
scarcely dare think of them. The 
G-bomb, and finally — 55 Weller 
smiled slightly, his eyes bright. 
“Then the U-bomb.” 

They landed, and were met by 
Dr. Frisch, full of nervous excite- 
ment. “Dr. Weller!” he gasped. 
“Something has gone wrong!” 

“What is it?” ' 

Frisch’s face was contorted with 
dismay. By a violent Null-O leap 
lie managed to integrate his mental 
faculties and throw off thalamic im- 
pulses. “A number of human beings 
have survived! 55 

Weller was incredulous. “What 
do you mean? How — ” 

“I picked up the sound of their 
voices. 1 was rotating my ears, en- 
joying the roar and lap of the slag 
outside the bubble, when I picked 
up the noise of ordinary human 
beings.” 

“But where?” 

“Below the surface. Certain 
wealthy industrialists had secretly 
transferred their factories below 
ground, in violation of their gov- 
ernments’ absolute orders to the 
contrary.” 

“Yes, we had an explicit policy 
to prevent that.” 

“These industrialists acted with 

105 




typical thalamic greed. They trans- 
ferred whole labor forces below, to 
work as slaves when war began. At 
least ten thousand humans were 
spared. They are still alive. And — ” 

“And whaL?” 

“They have improvised huge 
bores, and are moving this way as 
quickly as possible. We’re going to 
have a fight on our hands. I’ve al- 
ready notified the Venus ship. It’s 
being brought up to the surface at 
once.” 

Lemuel and Dr. Weller glanced 
at each other in horror. There 
were only a thousand Null-O’s; 
they’d be outnumbered ten to one. 
“This is terrible,” Weller said thick- 
ly. “Just when everything seemed 
near completion. How long before 
the power towers are ready?” 

“It will be another six days be- 
fore the Earth can be brought up 
to critical mass,” Frisch muttered. 
“And the bores arc virtually here. 
Rotate your ears. You’ll hear them.” 

Lemuel and Dr. Weller did so. 
At once, a confusing babble of hu- 
man voices came to them. A chaotic 
clang of sound, from a number ol : 
bores converging on the two ter- 
minal bubbles. 

“Perfectly ordinary humans!” 
Lemuel gasped. “I can tell by the 
sound!” 

“We’re trapped!” Weller grabbed 
up a blaster, and Frisch did so, too. 
All the Null-O’s were arming them- 
selves. Work was forgotten. With a 
shattering roar the snout of a bore 
burst through the ground and 
aimed itself directly at them. The 
Null-O’s fired wildly; they scat- 
tered and fell back toward the 
tower. 

106 



A second bore appeared, and 
then a third. The air was alive with 
blazing beams of energy, as the 
Null-O’s fired and the humans fired 
back. The humans were the most 
common possible, a variety of la- 
borers taken subsurface by their 
employers. The lowest forms of 
human life: clerks, bus drivers, day- 
laborers, typists, janitors, tailors, 
bakers, turret lathe operators, ship- 
ping clerks, baseball players, radio 
announcers, garage mechanics, po- 
licemen, necktie peddlers, icc cream 
venders, door-to-door salesmen, bill 
collectors, receptionists, welders, 
carpenters, construction laborers, 
farmers, politicians, merchants — the 
men and women whose very exist- 
ence terrified the Null-O’s to their 
core. 

The emotional masses of ordinary 
people who resented the Great 
Work, the bombs and bacteria and 
guided missiles, were coming to the 
surface. They were rising up — final- 
ly. Putting an end to super-logic: 
rationality without responsibility. 

“We haven’t a chance,” Weller 
gasped. “Forget the towers. Get the 
ship to the surface.” 

A salesman and two plumbers 
were setting fire to the terminal. A 
group of men in overalls and can- 
vas shirts were ripping clown the 
wiring. Others just as ordinary were 
turning their heat guns on the in- 
tricate controls. Flames licked up. 
The terminal tower swayed omi- 
nously. 

The Venus ship appeared, lifted 
to the surface by an intricate stage- 
system. At once the Null-O’s poured 
into it, in two efficient lines, all of 
them controlled and integrated as 

PHILLIP K. DICK 




the crazed human beings decimated 
their ranks. 

“Animals,” Weller said sadly. 
“The mass of men. Mindless ani- 
mals, dominated by their emotions. 
Beasts, unable to see things logical- 

iy” 

A heat beam finished him ofT, 
and the man behind moved for- 
ward. Finally the last remaining 
Null-O was aboard, and the great 
hatches slammed shut. With a thun- 
derous roar the jets of the ship 
opened, and it shot through the 
bubble into the sky. 

Lemuel lay where he had fallen, 
when a heal beam, wielded by a 
crazed electrician, had touched his 
left leg. Sadly, he saw the ship rise, 
hesitate, then crash through ancl 
dwindle into the flaming sky. Hu- 
man beings were all around him, 
repairing the damaged protection 
bubble, shouting orders and yelling 
excitedly. The babble of their voices 
beat against his sensitive ears; fee- 
bly, he put his hands up and cov- 
ered them. 



The ship was gone. He had been 
left behind. But the plan would 
continue without him. 

A distant voice came to him. It 
was Dr. Frisch aboard the Venus 
ship, yelling down with cupped 
hands. The voice was faint, lost in 
the trackless miles of space, but 
Lemuel managed to make it out 
above the noise and hubbub around 
him. 

“Goodbye . . . We’ll remember 

you . . .” 

“Work hard!” the boy shouted 
hack. “Don’t give up until the plan 
is complete!” 

“We’ll work . . .” The voice grew 
more faint. “We’ll keep on . . It 
died out, then returned for a brief 
Instant. “We’ll succeed . . And 
then there was only silence. 

With a peaceful smile on his face, 
a smile of happiness and content- 
ment, satisfaction at a job well 
done, Lemuel lay back and waited 
for the pack of irrational human 
animals to finish him. END 



PIPE DREAM 

By Fritz Leiber 

IT BEGAN when Simon Grue found something odd in his bathtub. 
This happened in Greenwich Village, of course, where anything odd, 
rusty, obsolete, discarded, forgotten or nonexistent is likely to turn up. 
But not every Village apartment looks out on a rooftop where four 
Russians named Stulnikov-Gurevich are pumping green witch-fire through 
a transparent pipe — witch-fire, with little girl-shapes swimming in it! 

In the same issue, you’ll find stories by Gordwainer Smith, Theodore 
L. Thomas, George H. Smith, and others- an issue full of rich, satisfying 
science fiction entertainment from beginning to end. 

Don’t miss the February IF- -on sale December 15! 



NULL-0 



107 





IN THE BALANCE 



Book Reviews by the Editor 



J AMES BLISH’S A Case of Con- 
science, which created a sensa- 
lion when it appeared in IF in 
1953, lias now been expanded by 
the author into a full-length novel 
(Ballantine, 35c) which is even 
better than the original: a rich, 
controlled, deeply felt work. 

The original novelette appears 
with only minor changes as Book 
One of the novel. It deals with the 
fascinating moral, theological and 
practical problems posed by the 
idyllic reptilian culture of the planet 
Lithia, under investigation by a 
U. N. team including an aggressive 
atheist and a Jesuit priest. The 
other two members arc more or less 
neutral, but to Cleaver the engi- 
neer and Ruiz-Sanchez the Jesuit 
biologist, Lithia is not merely a 
planet for exploitation, but a test- 
ing ground of faith. 

Cleaver, a grotesque symbol of 
ruthless materialism, wants to use 
Lithia as an inexhaustible store- 
house of nuclear weapons. Ruiz- 



Sanchez wants it sealed off from all 
further contact, for an equally gro- 
tesque but logical reason: 

Lithia ‘s scaly citizens enjoy per- 
fect peace and happiness — the state 
of Eden before the Fall — without 
religion. To Ruiz-Sanchez, this 
theologically impossible condition 
can only be a creation of the Ad- 
versary — one more piece of manu- 
factured evidence to destroy belief 
in God. In short, he is convinced 
that the whole planet and all its 
creatures arc a fabrication of the 
Devil. 

Book One ends in a poetic am- 
biguity, as the U. N. team, unable 
lo agree on any decision, prepares 
to go back to Earth. The reader 
is left to wonder whether Ruiz- 
Sanchez is tragically right, or pa- 
thetically wrong. As a final gesture, 
one of the Li Lilians has presented 
Ruiz-Sanchez with a vase in which 
a Lithian egg has been placed. And 
it is from this egg, in an astonish- 
ingly forceful growth of logic, that 



108 



the rest of the story emerges. 

The Earth background of Book 
Two, which might have been dim 
in comparison with the rich land- 
scape of Lithia, is stunningly vivid. 
The new characters, half a dozen 
of them, are drawn with a sure 
touch Blish never had before, and 
even the old characters, including 
Ruiz-Sanchez himself, have taken 
on a new roundness, a new feeling 
of humanity. 

But Egtverchi, the emigrated 
Lithian, steals the show whenever 
he appears. Blish has had the in- 
sight to realize that a Lithian 
brought up in Earth's decadent un- 
derground society would be neither 
a denizen of Paradise nor one of 
Earth. Egtverchi is a rogue male, a 
brilliant, spiritually crippled, root- 
less maker of mischief. Unable to 
feel any kinship with Earth's cus- 
toms, wholly ignorant of Lithia’s, 
he has no role but to spread dissen- 
sion: and he does so with elan, 
audacity and style. 

Without fumbling a moment, 
Blish carries this story forward con- 
currently with three others — 
Michaclis’ love affair with Liu 
Meid, Ruiz-Sanchez' pilgrimage 
to Rome in the expectation of be- 
ing tried for heresy, and Cleaver’s 
conquest of Lithia. They all come 
together with a bang — leaving the 
reader, again, to decide for himself 
what has actually happened and 
who was in the right. 

To my mind, Blish has balanced 
this equation with exquisite nicety. 
Most stories on theological themes 
are written polemically from one 
viewpoint or the other, excluding 
the arguments of the opposing side. 



Blish has put them all in, and so 
compellingly that even if you are a 
confirmed doubter like me, you 
must feel the truth of Ruiz-Sanchez’ 
agony: and I think very likely, 
even if you are a True Believer, you 
must glimpse some of the yawning 
holes in Ruiz-Sanchez’ position. 

The book resonates with a note 
of its own; although the final ques- 
tion is not answered, the novel is 
in no sense unfinished — it is com- 
plete and perfect. 

Fred Hoyle, the Cambridge as- 
tronomer noted for his revolution- 
ary creation, has written a delight- 
ful first novel, The Black Cloud , 
(Harper, $2.95) . His theme was fa- 
miliar thirty years or so ago, when 
world-wrecking stories were in 
vogue, but has lately been neg- 
lected: what would happen if the 
solar system passed through a dense 
cloud of cosmic dust? 

Hoyle’s answer, written from the 
viewpoint of the professional as- 
tronomer, is at once more elaborate- 
ly convincing and a^ot livelier than 
the usual gloom-laden treatment. 
Something of a rebel in politics as 
well as in astronomy, Hoyle takes a 
dim view of the governments of his 
country and ours, and shows no 
reverence even for the eminent 
members of his own profession. 

The menace of the Cloud, fright- 
eningly plausible to begin with 
(“ ‘Within a fortnight we shall have 
a hundred degrees of frost, and 
within a month there’ll be two hun- 
dred and fifty or more.’ ”) is en- 
livened by Hoyle’s disrespectful 
irony, and heightened by his care- 
ful and elaborate exposition of the 



109 




problem. (When a calculation is 
called for. Iioyle puls it in a foot- 
note.) Except for one or two lapses, 
when trained astronomers patiently 
explain kindergarten matters to 
each other, Hoyle’s presentation of 
this difficult subject is both plausi- 
ble and lucid. His manipulation of 
vhe problem, when it turns out that 
the Cloud is more dian it seems, I 
had better pass over, for fear of 
spoiling the story ; but it is master- 
ly. and the result is a whacking 
good sciencc-puzzlc thriller. 

The label under which they were 
published, '‘novels of menace/ 1 is 
as good a description as any of A 
Stir of Echoes , by Richard Mulhc- 
son, and The Man Who Couldn't 
Sleep, by Charles Eric Maine (Lip- 
pincott, each $3.00). Neither is 
quite science fiction, although both 
resemble it. The Mathrson is a thin 
and banal ghost story with psi trim- 
mings. written in a Chippendale 
Chinese style (e.g., “knitting plas- 
tically into a hot core of multi- 
formed awareness”) stuffed full of 
tautologies (who else but Mathc- 
son could write* 41 ‘to re-plungc 
back into the formless irrational 
again’”?). The dialogue is Cali- 
fornia Domestic, the descriptions 
eloquently emetic. 

The Maine, published in Eng- 
land as Escapement in 1956, is one 
of this erratic authors oddest per- 
formances: a tasteless ancf shoddy 
mixture of Sax Rohmer and Mickey 
Spillane, with some passages of 
strikingly good s-f extrapolation 
and imagination. The hero, a sci- 
entist named Maxwell, is a man 
who has suffered an injury to his 



sleep center, and who undergoes 
periodic losses of various functions 
as a result — like a Superman in re- 
verse, at crucial moments he is like- 
ly to go deaf, or lose his memory. 
The characters are almost without 
exception sadistic dream -images; 
Maxwell himself is a gray cipher. 
When it pauses between acts of 
violence, the story is sometimes in- 
triguing, oftencr dull. A multiple 
murder by the hero, (98,432.812 
victims) winds up the .story. 

Robots and Changelings, by Les- 
ler del Roy (Ballantinc, 35c), is a 
collection of eleven stories original- 
ly published between 1939 and 
1957. Although the stories range 
widely in subject, and show some 
technical development, they arc re- 
markably uniform in theme. Del 
Roy’s preoccupation now, as it was 
when he began to write fiction, is 
the superseded man, the odd one. 
the misfit— the dying god of “The 
Pipes of Pan/' the elf of “The Cop- 
persmith/ 5 the old space captain of 
“The Still Waters/' the normal boy 
in a super-world of “Kindness,” the 
immortal dog of “The Keepers of 
the House/ 5 vhe aging dictator of 
“Uneasy Lies the Head/ 5 the man 
without an identity Qf “The Mon- 
ster/ 5 the puzzled robot of “Into 
Thy Hands. 55 These stories are 
memorable for their quiet compas- 
sion. 

The Skylark of Space , by Edward 
E. Smith (Pyramid, 35c), some- 
what abridged and rewritten, cap- 
tures my imagination as much as 
ever it did. This 30-year-old grand- 
father of the galactic space opera — 



1 10 




Smith’s first story — has a fast, lean 
plot, an air of excitement, and four 
characters who are comfortingly 
bigger than life. Later writers felt 
they had to be more finicking about 
interstellar distances, and more so- 
phisticated about the motives of 
heroes and villains. In The Skylark , 
everything is big and simple — Sea- 
ton, his alter ego DuQucsne, the 
wonderful globular spaceship — and 
the feeling that adventures are 
waiting everywhere. 

The Other Side of the Sky, by 
Arthur C. Clarke, (Harcourt, 
Brace. $3.95), takes its title from 
one of the two series of short-short 
space stories which are included in 
the volume. These vignettes, twelve 
of them, are without exception re- 
markably trivial. The other twelve 
stories, first published between 1949 
and 1957, include some of Clarke’s 
very best work — notably “The Nine 
Billion Names of God,” “The Star,” 
“Out of the Sun,” and “The Songs 
of Distant Earth.” 



T AKEN together, there are 
twenty- two stories in The Best 
Science Fiction Stories and Novels, 
Ninth Series , edited by T. E. Diklv 
(Advent, $3.50), and S-F, the 
Year’s Greatest Science-Fiction and 
Fantasy, edited by Judith Merril 
(Dell, 35c). Of these, to my mind, 
two are first-rate: “Call Me Joe,” 
by Poul Anderson, from Astound- 
ing, and “Hunting Machine,” by 
Carol Emshwiller, from Science 
Fiction Stories. Both stories appear 
in the Dikiy collection. 

The Anderson is a powerful nov- 
elette about a man’s existence-by- 



proxy on the planet Jupiter, writ- 
ten with brilliance and symphonic 
vigor. Reinterpreting Simak’s “De- 
sertion” and Blish’s “Bridge,” it im- 
proves on both of them, which is 
no small achievement. 

The Emshwiller, one of the first 
published stories by this talented 
writer, is a jewel-perfect vignette 
of human spiritual smallness, con- 
trasted with the physical bigness of 
a brown bear. Not many stories this 
small pack so much wallop. 

The best of the rest are Kuttner’s 
comic “Near Miss” (Merril), Kate 
Wilhelm’s dizzy and compact “The 
Mile-Long Spaceship” (Dikty, As- 
tounding), Brian W. Aldiss’s en- 
gagingly insane “Let’s Be Frank” 
(Merril, New Worlds ), Avram 
Davidson’s “New Let Us Sleep'* 
and Algis Budrys’ “The Edge of the 
Sea” (Merril, Venture), two pow- 
erful stories crippled by false end- 
ings; Rog Phillips’ “Game Pre- 
serve” (Merril, If) and Lloyd Big- 
gie, Jr.’s “The Tunesmith” (Dikty, 
//).; 

The others arc all reasonably 
good but undistinguished stories: 
lackluster exercises on familiar 
themes. Seven of MerriPs eleven 
stories belong to the “and fantasy” 
half of her title; Dikty’s, with the 
exceptions mentioned, are mostly 
dead-level puzzles of melodramas, 
each one grayly blending into a 
hundred similar stories you have 
read and mildly enjoyed. 

Ladies and gentlemen, it was a 
bad year. 

Man of Earth , by Algis Budrys, 
(Ballanline, 35c) is an expanded 
and revised version of the novelette. 



111 




“The Man From Earth,” which ap- 
peared in Satellite in 1956. The 
new version has all the faults and 
virtues of the original, plus a few 
new ones. Budrys’ opening situation 
is one of the most intriguing ideas 
in recent science fiction: a mousy 
little executive named Sibley under- 
goes “personality alteration” and 
effectively becomes a new person. 
Outgoing, virile and combative, he 
takes the appropriate name of John 
L. Sullivan. 

This death-and-rebirth episode 
is symbolically powerful, and beau- 
tifully managed. When Budrys goes 
on to tell the adventures of Sulli- 
van, however, the story first loses its 
special flavor, and then becomes a 
different story altogether. 

Sibley was persuasively drawn, 
with all his timidities and his hal- 
ing self-knowledge ; Sullivan is a big 
lump who gets dragooned into the 
army on Pluto, knocks everybody 
around, and is unable to understand 
why nobody likes him. 

The brutal training program 
which is then set forth in detail has 
its own horrid fascination, but is 
not science fiction; neither is Sul- 
livan’s conventional romance with 
a counter girl (straight out of how 
many pulp fight stories and West- 
erns?). The story is oriented around 
a question : what is this army train- 
ing itself so hard for? And the an- 
swer, this time, is no more satisfac- 
tory than it was before. In the orig- 
inal version, Budrys rang in some 
last-minute aliens and a lot of in- 
vasion-of-Earth nonsense; in this 
one, he explains at the end that the 
army is going to be sent out to 
colonize the stars, because nobody 



else wants to. 

Cut it out. Somebody always 
wants to go anywhere. 

Out of This World , by Murray 
Leinster, is a loosely organized col- 
lection of stories about Bud Greg- 
ory, the hillbilly polymath who has 
an intuitive understanding of elec- 
tronics and atomic physics, and 
whomps up a new wonderful in- 
vention in every other chapter. The 
stories originally appeared in Thrill- 
ing Wonder. 

As always, Leinster is ingenious 
in thinking up zany practical appli- 
cations of slightly cockeyed princi- 
ples. But watching Gregory pull 
these things out of his hat one after 
the other is wearisome; unlimited 
fantasy, as Arthur Koestler said 
(and as H. G. Wells said before 
him) is generally boring. 

World Without Men , (Ace, 35c) 
is Charles Eric Maine’s usual mix- 
ture of audacity, bad taste, worse 
science, sadism, ingenuity and imag- 
inative syntax. This one is about a 
world in which the men have all 
died off due to the use of Stcrilin, 
an oral contraceptive. Maine ex- 
plains this with some remarkably 
antiquated Bergsonian blether: 
“. . . a blind reaction of nature to 
the mass Stcrilin addiction of the 
human race. From nature’s point 
of view almost the entire female 
half of the human species had be- 
come sterile. What was the obvious 
compensating action? Simply to 
produce more females to replace 
those who had lost their capacity 
to conceive. . . .” Why “nature” 
didn’t conclude the childless males 



112 




were sterile, and produce more of 
them too, Maine does not say. 

The Sundial , by Shirley Jackson 
(Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, $3.75) 
either is or is not science fiction, 
fantasy, or a perfectly (if peculiar- 
ly) mundane novel, according to 
how you look at it. The story con- 
cerns a warning received by a maid- 
en lady from her late father that 
the world is coming to an end. The 
warning, if it is a warning, is en- 
tirely subjective but certainly feels 
real enough, and in one way or an- 
other a whole oddly-assorted fam- 
ily plus a. few even odder guests 
come to believe in it, and prepare 
for the day of destruction. 

The Halloran family relationship 
is one of delicately balanced dis- 
tastes and malices, candidly ex- 
pressed. (“Did you marry me for 
my father’s money?” “Well, that, 
and the house.”) The goings-on in 
the household are unexceptional, 
even dreary, but every now and 
then there is a vaguely unsettling 
incursion of fantasy: a snake in the 
fireplace; a mist in which marble 
statues appear warm as flesh. There 
is a suggestion throughout that the 
banal domestic reality of the house 
is only a fiction, which may be dis- 
carded at any moment. <c ‘We are 
in a pocket of time, Orianna, a tiny 
segment of time suddenly pinpoint- 
ed by a celestial eye.’ ” The tiny 
cruelties of the family circle grow 
to seem almost kindly, in compari- 
son with the vast Zero that waits 
outside; and when in the last chap- 
ter the household waits for the ap- 
pointed day, the question is not 
only, “Will the world end?” but 



“Did it ever exist?” 

Fantasia Mathematical edited by 
Clifton Fadiman, is a tasteful col- 
lection of stories, poems and odd- 
ments dealing mostly with the fan- 
tasy worlds of mathematics. Fifteen 
stories are science fiction or fantasy, 
including Robert A. Heinlein’s 
“And He Built a Crooked House,” 
Martin Gardner’s “No-Sided Pro- 
fessor,” and “A Subway Named 
Mocbius,” by A. J. Deutsch. The 
pill is carefully sugar-coated, with 
selections from the works of Hux- 
ley, Kocstler, Cabell, Plato, Capek, 
Morley, Millay, Housman and 
many others, and will persuade 
book snobs that science fiction is 
good . . . maybe. 

The Space Encyclopaedia , edited 
by M. T. Bizony and R. Griffin 
(Dutton, $6.95) is a beautifully 
comprehensive and convenient 
source book for science fiction 
writers, and for readers interested 
in keeping up with the explosive 
new field of space exploration. 
There are general articles on such 
subjects as Cosmology; the Galaxy; 
Relativity, Theory of; &c.; and 
shorter entries, from a page or so 
down to a single sentence, clearly 
explaining technical terms and con- 
cepts in astronomy and rocketry. 
The 300 illustrations are fascinat- 
ing in themselves. The book is 
photo-offset (apparently from the 
original British edition) on heavy, 
glossy white paper. The price is 
stiff, but the book is worth it. 

From the Earth to the Moon and 
A Trip Around It, by Jules Verne. 



113 




Lippincott, $1.95. Here are two 
( lassies, of which T was able to 
penetrate the first one a matter of 
some 70 pages. In this translation 
at least, it is heavily jocose, creaky 
( uc What point in the heavens 
ought the cannon to be aimed at 
which is intended to discharge the 
projectile? 5 55 ) and chock full of 
scientific misinformation. 

The Iron Heel , by Jack London. 
Macmillan, $3.72. Here’s another 
classic which I’d never opened be- 
fore, and this one is lively. In spite 
of having been written (in 1907) 
about the period beginning with 
1913, the book carries its own 
clumsy, exuberant conviction. Some 
of the characters arc lay figures, 
speaking to prove London's point 
rather than their own, but it doesn't 
seem to matter. Ernest Everhard 
is one of the last of the Victorian 
heroes of fiction — a lot bigger than 
life and more enleriaining. Some 
ol London’s forccasls are patheti- 



cally unreal — contrast his socialist 
uprising against World War 1 with 
the patriotic frenzy that really took 
place — others are curiously sug- 
gestive; for instance, he begins the 
war with a German attack on 
Honolulu (on December 4th!). 
Toward the latter part, the book 
drifts off inconclusively, but it’s 
still alive and kicking. 

The Shrouded Planet, by Robert 
Randall. Gnome, $3.00. All about 
the planet Niclor, whose ecology 
seems to be made up entirely of 
peych beans, hugl bugs, and sim- 
pletons. 

The Survivors, by Tom Godwin. 
Gnome, $3.00. Some intersteller 
colonists are captured by the Gerns 
and set down on a cold, high-gravi- 
ty planet. The survivors drive 
themselves for three generations 
to get their own back. The concep- 
tion is grandiose, the execution 
glum and banal. 




SATELLITE PASSAGE 

(Continued from page 37) 

lector, hunting for the frequency 
the Russians were using. Kaufman 
found it. He said, “Got it, I think. 
One twenty-eight point nine.” 
Morgan set his selector, heard 
nothing at first. Then hard in his 
ear burst an unintelligible sentence 
with the characteristic fruity diph- 
thongs of Russian. “I think that’s 
it,” he said. 

He watched, and the satellite in- 
creased in size. “No rifle or any 
other weapon that I see,” said 
Morgan. “But they are carrying a 
lot of extra oxygen bottles.” 

Kaufman grunted. McNary 
asked, “Can you tell if it’s a colli- 
sion course yet? I can’t.” 

Morgan stared at the satellite 
through narrowed eyes, frowning in 
concentration. “I think not. I think 
it’ll cross our bow twenty or thirty 
feet out; close but no collision.” 
McNary’s breath sounded loud in 
the helmet. “Good. Then we’ve 
nothing but the men to worry 
about. I wonder how those boys 
pitch.” 

Another burst of Russian came 
over the radio, and with it Morgan 
felt himself slip into the relaxed 
state he knew, so well. No longer 
was the anticipation rising. He was 
ready now, in a state of calm, a 
deadly and efficient calm — ready 
for the test. This was how it always 
was with him when the time came, 
and the time was now. 

Morgan watched as the other 
satellite approached. His feet were 
apart and his head turned sideways 
over his left shoulder. At a thousand 



yards, he heard a mutter in Russian 
and saw the man at the stern start 
moving rapidly toward the bow. 
His steps were long. Too long. 

Morgan saw the gap appear be- 
tween the man and the surface of 
the other ship, saw the legs kicking 
in a futile attempt to establish con- 
tact again. The radio was alive with 
quick, short sentences, and the two 
men turned and began to work 
their way swiftly toward the bit of 
human jetsam that floated near 
them. 

“I’ll be damned,” said Kaufman. 
“They’ll never make it.” 

Morgan had seen that this was 
true. The gap between floating 
man and ship widened faster than 
the gap between men and floating 
man diminished. Without conscious 
thought or plan, Morgan leaned 
forward and pulled the jack on the 
telephone line from McNary’s hel- 
met. He leaned back and did the 
same to Kaufman, straightened and 
removed his own. He threw a quick 
knot and gathered the line, forming 
a coil in his left hand and one in 
his right, and leaving a large loop 
floating near the ship in front of 
him. He stepped forward to clear 
Kaufman, and twisted his body far 
around to the right. There he 
waited, eyes fixed on the other satel- 
lite. He crouched slightly and began 
to lean forward, far forward. At 
the proper moment he snapped both 
his arms around to throw the line, 
the left hand throwing high, the 
right low. All his sailor’s skill went 
into that heave. As the other satel- 
lite swept past, the line flew true 
to meet it. The floating man saw 
it coming and grabbed it and 



115 




wrapped ii around his hand and 
shouted into the radio. The call was 
not needed; the lower portion of 
the line struck one of the walking 
men. He turned and pulled the line 
into his arms and hauled it tight. 
The satellite was barely past when 
the bit of human jetsam was re- 
turning to its metallic haven. The 
two men became three again, and 
they turned to face the American 
satellite. As one man the three 
raised both arms and waved. Still 



without thinking, Morgan found 
himself raising an arm with Kauf- 
man and McNary and waving 
back. 

He dropped his arm and watched 
the satellite shrink in size. The 
calmness left him, replaced by a 
small spot of emptiness that grew 
inside him, and grew and swelled 
and threatened to engulf him. 

Passage was ended, but the taste 
in his mouth was of ashes and not 
of glory. END 



HALF AROUND PLUTO 



(Continued from page 98) 

But he opened his eyes and 
looked at her hair like Plutonian 
night, her eyes like bright stars. 
“Lya,” he said. “I’m going to call 
you Lya.” 

“Please call me Lya ” 

“I’d be bound to dream about 
you. I’ve dreamed about you so 
much . . . Owww!” 

He got his right hand up to cher- 
ish his tingling cheek. 

“So you felt that,” she said. “Now 
you know you’re awake. Or must I 
slap you again?” 

‘Tm sorry, Madame.” 

“You called me Lya. Can you 
stand up? I’ll help you.” 

She helped him. He stood up, 
there in the admission chamber of 
Base Camp. Lya Stromminger was 
smiling, and she was crying, too. 

“You didn’t go away,” he said. 
“You' re still here.” The weight of 
his oclysscy, half around Pluto, was 
beginning to stagger him. 

“No, I stayed. I knew you’d come 
back. I knew Pluto couldn’t kill 



you or keep you from coming 
back.” 

He drank more from the cup she 
held to his lips. 

“We’ll wait together for them to 
come with the next expedition,” 
she promised him. 

“Twenty years? Supplies — ” 

“There’ll be plenty. Don’t you 
know about Pluto? Didn’t those 
craters, those old volcanoes, tell 
you?” 

Thinking of how he had crossed 
the crater, Wofforth shuddered. 

“Pluto is colder than anybody 
even guessed — outside. But inside 
are the internal fires — like all the 
solid planets. We made our tests 
and we can tap them. I kept the in- 
struments for that. It incans we’ll 
have power, and can make our 
synthetic foods and so on for as 
long as we need them. You are I 
are the inhabitants here — ” 

He stumbled to a chair and sat. 
“Twenty years — ” he said. 

Her arm was still around him. 
Her hair brushed his cheek. “It 
won’t be long. We have so much 
to say to each other.” END 




THE RETORT 



I have several bouquets anti a 
couple of bottles of skunk perfume 
to hand out. 

My first bouquet, a bit* one, goes 
to your magazine as a whole. You 
publish, issue for issue, the best so- 
ciological s-f on the market. Thai's 
not all, however; you also seem to 
have a corner on the most imagina- 
tive “space opera” to be found on 
the corner newsstand. 

A bouquet, also, for your art- 
work. 

As for your stories, I’m afraid 
that this was an off issue for you. 
A Quest ion of Identity was superb. 
Powder Keg is good, but the same 
idea popped up in Operation: 
Outer Space. Passport to Sirius , 
The Raider , and The Bureaucrat 
were mediocre (for you). 

Conservation had a painfully ob- 
vious ending; and a gallon of high- 
grade skunk oil to whoever “brain- 
stormed” up the idea of publishing 
Homecoming. I think that Mr. 
Hidalgo wrote up a nightmare he 
had one night, and (through hypno- 
tism?) fobbed it off on vou. 



Bantering aside, I would like to 
make some constructive sugges- 
tions : 

] ) Why not get Kelly Frcas? 

2) Why not eliminate Science 
Quiz altogether? 

3) Why not add 10 pages; every- 
one else has 130? 

4) Why must I always turn to 
the back of the magazine for the 
last two paragraphs of any interest- 
ing story? (The 10 pages men- 
tioned above would liquidate this 
nuisance.) 

fj) Why not bring back Forrest 
J. Ackerman’s column of s-f news 
notes? 

6) Why not write some real edi- 
torials; if Astounding and the Co- 
lumbia magazines (SFQ, SFS, 
FSF) have them, why can’t you? 

7 ) Why not a good book 
reviewer (Damon Knight, or 
P. Schuyler Miller) and have some 
meaty reviews waiting for your 
readers every other month? 

8) Why not use one issue a year 
to publish a full-length novel, com- 
plete in one issue? 



117 



9) Belter still, why nol go 
monthly; and if you’re a little leery 
of taking the plunge all at once, 
you can do as Infinity did, and go 
to a 10-month-a-year schedule, then 
if the circulation returns you can 
switch to monthly with no trouble 
at all? 

I’m interested in forming a fan 
club in Wayne County, so please 
print my street address when you 
publish this, and would all inter- 
ested persons get in touch with 
me — 

— Roger Blackmar 
Allen Park, Mich. 

One of us has been reading the 
other’s mind. Freas is here; the 
Science Quiz is gone; and I’m the 
new book reviewer. To answer your 
other points: (1) IF is published on 
a press which turns out a “ signa- 
ture ” of twenty pages instead of the 
more usual sixteen. Some day we 
may be able to add twenty pages 
to the magazine , and we’re enthu- 
siastic about the new things we’ll 
be able to bring you then. In the 
meantime , however , our compact , 
readable type-face allows us to print 
more words of fiction in every issue 
than nearly any other s-f magazine. 
This issue has 54,000 words of 
stories , compared to as little as 41 
000 in some other magazines. (2) 
We regret the occasional runovers; 
but would you rather have us cut 
two paragraphs from a good story? 
(3) We’d like to hear some more 
reactions to your suggestion about 
the s-f news column. (4) The edi- 
torials will appear as part of In the 
Balance. (5) I’d hate to change 
IF's identity as a magazine by turn- 



ing a whole issue over to a novel. 
Our hope is to enlarge the magazine 
so as to be able to give you a book- 
length novel and short stories , nov- 
elettes and departments. (6) 
Monthly publication is one of our 
aims , too . . . how soon it happens 
is partly up to you. 

I have finally found a story I 
thought good enough to write in 
about. I am referring to Gunn’s 
Powder Keg. I buy s-f for stories 
like this, and usually don’t find 
them. The other stories were good, 
but I can’t say too much for Pow- 
der Keg. 

You mentioned Interlingua in 
your report. J’rn interested, and 
would like to find out more about 
it. I know enough to get confused! 

I’d like to thank you for one of 
the best s-f mags on the market. 

— Marti Larson 
Roundup, Mont. 

Information about Interlingua 
can be had from Alexander Code, 
Science Service , Interlingua Divi- 
sion , 80 E. 11 th St., New York 3 , 
N. Y. 

After reading Arthur C. Clarke’s. 
“The Songs of Distant Earth” — 
and what such a beautiful title, too 
— I am frankly surprised. This was 
undoubtedly one of the best that IF 
has ever presented and I dare say 
that it will be that way for a real 
long time to come in the far future 
of science fiction. It brought back 
to me the memories of the Good 
Old Days and a person’s personal 
freedom on this earth then. It seems 
like I can still hear the echoes of the 



118 




Songs of Earth and everything else, 
and I believe that they will be a 
long time in waning. 

I guess this here is mostly a praise 
to Mr. Clarke, one of my favorite 
authors. I have read some fine 
works from him in the past. Need I 
say that Against The Fall of Night 
is his best? I guess every author 
loves plugs about himself now and 
then — I have gotten some letters 
from such brilliant nice people like 
Charles V. De Vet, telling me that 
those plugs always do help. 

— James W. Ayers 
Attalla, Ala. 

I’m afraid that Mr. William M. 
Noe II, in his letter in the August 
1958 issue, took rny story The Feel- 
ing of Power , too literally. 

When my characters spoke about 
breaking through on the “square 
root front”, they did not mean that 
they were solving square roots for 
the first time. They meant they 
were learning how to solve them 
without computers . 

And certainly a manned missile 
is not practical as a counter to a 
computer-controlled missile. In the 
story, however, please note that the 
characters were unaware of the 
limitations of the human mind as 
compared to the computer. 

As a matter of fact, the story 
was intended to be a social satire, 
rather than a straight to-be-taken- 
literally story. As to exactly what 
I was satirizing, V m not sure. I’ll 
leave it to the readers tc interpret 
that as they please — only, please, 
not literally. 

— Isaac Asimov 

West Newton. Mass. 



In the August IF, a Miss Betty 
Herman went about presenting a 
challenge that I have been mean- 
ing to take up for quite a while; 
yet in her letter, she described just 
the opposite of the idea which I 
have formed. Miss Herman asked 
the often repeated question, Is 
science fiction about science or 
about the world of tomorrow? Such 
stories such as Messiah , Fahrenheit 
451 , 1984 , Not This August , and 
Hero's Walk concern future society 
on Earth, and these seem to be the 
type which was being attacked by 
Miss Herman. 

Now stop! Miss Herman writes 
that science fiction should be gadg- 
ets and medicine — sociology and 
economics' — space I ravel and tele- 
portation — but why, if these are to 
be considered science, not consider 
a story about future society science 
- — why not consider a good social 
satire science fiction? Is the science 
which Miss Herman speaks of just 
the science which can be translated 
by an SF author into gizmos and 
rockets? What is to be considered 
science and what not? What is to 
be considered science fiction and 
what not? 

According to a rather philo- 
sophical definition I have heard, 
“Science is truth found out”. 
Therefore, stories about the future 
could be “Truth yet to be found 
out” whether it be on any subject. 
On the other hand, stories labeled 
science fiction about the future 
would have to be “Truth not yet 
found out” or maybe “Truth not 
to be found out” or . . . 

— Christopher Corson 
Tahoe Valley, Calif. 



119 




Yes, but ti’ J k'ii a science fiction 
writer uses 1958 attitudes, anxieties, 
&c. in a story about 2050, that isn't 
'"truth not yet found out;' is it? 
Miss Herman's complaint was 
against slipshod and phony future 
societies . I think . S( When is a science 
fiction story a bore? When a pres - 
ent-day dilemma (war, depression, 
bad television , book-burning) is 
propelled into the defenseless fu- 
ture, and then solved in a manner 
suitable to the author 1 think 
she's right. 

In regard to Miss Bartlcson’s 
voicing of her distaste for old words 
changed into new ones: Why 

should magazine not be modified 



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to mag? AnJ what is wrong with 
fanzine? Would you have it called 
fan magazine as it once w r as, or 
fanmag? And do you know what a 
fanzine is that you loathe the word? 
Language at best is only a relative 
thing. The “accepted” language 
changes as popular usage changes. 
Why then should not mag and fan- 
zine be used, when everyone knows 
or can easily guess what they mean? 
After all, fanzine is only a con- 
densation of fan maga zine. Of 
course, anything can go to ex- 
tremes, as with 4e Ackerman's ab- 
breviated English. But even that 
noble mess is understandable with 
very little effort, and it yields many 
opportunities for punning, 

Bv the way, while I am here, I 
must say that IF has the neatest 
repro (aha, those “new” words) 
of any mag on the stands, rivaled 
by Satellite. Its paper is superior, 
and its covers and interior illos (I 
forget myself, Miss Bartleson) are 
tops. I won't rave on about the 
material, in fear I’ll sound like 
someone from an Amazing letter- 
col, but I truly enjoyed Clarke 
thish (this issue. Miss Bartleson) ; 
Fontenav, Castle, and Thompson 
were a bit elementary, but Castle 
did have a message. But what about 
juvenile misfits? 

I find the amoeba has solved 
one of the most fundamental math 
problems, that of multiplying by 
dividing. 

— John Koning 
Youngstown, Ohio 

And there's Frank Riley's delight- 
ful satire on condensation called 
“Abbr”. 



no 





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